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Grave danger to Chechens refused access to refugee procedure in Terespol

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Amnesty International and the Association for Legal Intervention noted with concern the information about the fate of a young Chechen who had been forcibly returned to the territory of the Russian Federation by Belarussian authorities in early March.

According to reports of the Belarussian organisation Human Constanta, whom the man earlier approached asking for support and presenting the history of persecution he had faced in his country of origin (you may read the statement of HC here), the Chechen arrived at Brest, Belarus, at the beginning of February 2018. Later, he appeared at the Polish border in Terespol 16 times, unsuccessfully asking for admission to the procedure for granting international protection. On 26 February 2018, he and another Russian national, whose identity remains unknown to HC, were arrested during a desperate attempt to illegally cross the border between Poland and Belarus. On 2 March 2018, he was deported from Belarus to Russia, not to be heard of ever since.

This incident is another example of Belarussian authorities surrendering a Chechen to Russia, the practice that may result in serious violations of rights of the returned person due to the dramatic human rights status in Chechnya. This happened, for instance, to Imran Salamov, who made eight attempts to submit an application for international protection at the Terespol border crossing station prior to his deportation from Belarus in September 2017. The man went missing soon after his return to Russia (read more about the case).

Our organisations have never condoned any illegal border crossing attempts. However, it must be noted that the man made 16 attempts to come to Poland legally, exercising his right to submit an application for international protection. It is thus very likely that he was forced to take this desperate measure by the unlawful actions of the Border Guard, which consistently refused to receive his application for international protection in Poland.

It should be noted at this point that in 2017 the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw admitted complaints brought by foreign nationals in more than ten separate cases, and held that decisions denying their entry to Poland had been defective. Also the European Court of Human Rights in recent months communicated to Poland several cases that involve denial of entry at the border. We would like to once again emphasise that Polish authorities’ denial of an opportunity to submit an asylum application for individuals escaping persecution in Chechnya exposes these individuals to an extreme danger in the event of their forced return from Belarus to Russia.

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Amnesty International and the Association for Legal Intervention have petitioned the Headquarters of the Border Guard and the Commissioner for Human Rights to review the correctness of the proceedings conducted in cases of a grant of international protection at the Polish-Belarus border crossing station at Brest/Terespol.

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