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Forced returns – monitoring still ineffective

Despite being legally obliged to do so, the Border Guard still fails to inform authorised non-governmental organisations of all completed forced return procedures. The NGOs are only notified of selected flights, which significantly limits their ability to fully monitor these proceedings.

For example, the non-governmental organisations do not receive notifications of foreigners returned to a land border crossing or of a mandatory enforcement of a decision obliging a foreigner to return without an escort of Border Guard officers.

“In January 2015, foreigners were removed from Poland on commercial flights on 34 occasions, while the HFHR received notifications of just five such procedures”, Małgorzata Jaźwińska, HFHR’s lawyer, explains. “We don’t know how the Border Guard selects the flights they decide to let us know about. There is a risk, however, that those flights that are not reported to the organisations may be somehow problematic, and because of this they need to be independently monitored the more so”, Ms Jaźwińska says.

The HFHR has asked the Commander of the Border Guard to have the authorised non-governmental organisations informed of any forced removals of foreigners.

“The legislators enabled non-governmental organisations to monitor the mandatory enforcement of a decision obliging a foreigner to return to their country of origin, irrespectively of whether the foreigner is escorted to a border crossing, an airport or a sea port of a country to which they are returned. The law says non-governmental organisations may monitor each and every type of mandatory return procedures”, reads the statement.

The Helsinki Foundation also requested information about the practice of forced return notifications given to NGOs.

The Border Guard responded that it would develop a uniform position on the matter in early April.

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