Polish parliament passes law to legalise pushbacks against migrants

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Polish parliament passes law to legalise pushbacks against migrants

Polish Army soldiers are seen in front of the border guard headquarters in Michalowo, Poland October 11, 2021. REUTERS Kacper Pempel Kacper Pempel.

The Polish parliament took legislation on Thursday that human rights advocates say aims to legalise pushbacks against migrants across its borders in violation of the country's commitments under international law.

Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have been associated with sharp increases in migrants from countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq trying to cross their frontiers from Belarus, citing what Warsaw and Brussels say is a form of hybrid warfare to put pressure on the EU over sanctions imposed on Minsk.

Rights groups criticised the Polish government over its treatment of migrants at the border with accusations of repeated illegal pushbacks. Six dead are brought to the border by migration surge, since the recent arrival of migrants. Border guards argue that they are acting in accordance with government regulations written into law in August, effectively amended and now in compliance with the new laws. The legislation must now be signed by President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling nationalists, to take force.

The amendments include a procedure whereby a person caught illegally crossing the border can be ordered to leave Polish territory based on a decision by local Border Guard chief.

The order may be invoked and appealed to the commander of the Border Guard, but that does not suspend its execution.

The bill also allows the chief of the Office of Foreigners to disregard an application for international protection by a foreigner immediately caught after illegally crossing the border.

Under international law, migrants have a right to claim asylum and it is forbidden to send potential asylum-seekers back home where their lives or well-being could be in danger.

The Home Affairs Commissioner has said EU countries need to maintain the bloc's internal borders, but that they also have to uphold the rule of law and fundamental rights.

Critics such as Norway's Human Rights Ombudsman and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights say the new law does not guarantee effective recourse to people seeking international protection.

If there are people who have a legitimate request to seek asylum, there should be a way to allow that to happen, ODIHR director Matteo Mecacci told Reuters.

I understand there are also security concerns. security concerns but not the need for international protection.