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Poland is closing borders for refugees, statistics say

In 2016, the number of submitted applications for international protection in Poland decreased considerably, confirm the official statistics of the Border Guard. A spokesperson for the Office for Foreigners told Rzeczpospolita daily that this was a consequence of the Government’s policy that aims to “seal” Polish borders as well as Western European countries’ more strict approach to controls of the legal status of foreigners staying within their borders.

However, as HFHR legal expert Marta Górczyńska notes, there are many irregularities at Polish border crossing stations and many people are not even allowed to initiate asylum proceedings by filing an application, immediately receiving decisions denying them entry to Poland. More information about the practices of the Border Guard can be obtained from the HFHR’s account of a monitoring visit at the Brest-Terespol crossing, entitled “A road to nowhere”.

In recent months, the European Court of Human Rights has intervened in several cases involving foreign nationals denied access to Polish asylum procedures. The ECtHR even issued an interim measures that ordered Polish authorities to receive applications for international protection from designated individuals and allow them to stay in Poland pending the review of such applications. However, as the HFHR alarmed, these extraordinary measures have been ignored and foreigners still forced to return to Belarus.

In June, the HFHR described a case of a Chechen national who had been denied the opportunity to submit his asylum application on 31 separate occasions and denied entry to Poland even after he secured an interim measures from the ECtHR. In July, the Foundation obtained an interim measure for three refugees from Syria. Also in this case, the foreigners were returned to Belarus.

To find out more about the decreasing number of asylum applications, watch a video commentary by Marta Górczyńska:

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