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Refugees are no threat to Poland’s safety

On 30 January, the Minister of the Interior and Administration presented a draft amendment to the law on granting protection for foreigners.  The HFHR has expressed a critical opinion on the legislative proposals included in the draft.

These proposals introduce, among other things, a simplified procedure for granting international protection to foreigners and placing foreigners at guarded immigration centres for the duration of asylum proceedings. Moreover, plans have been made to create a list of “safe” third countries and “safe” countries of origin. If a foreigner arrives from a “safe” country, immigration authorities will be entitled to summarily reject their asylum application or transfer the asylum proceedings to a fast-track route.

Foundation’s opinion

According to a statement from Minister Błaszczak, the planned amendments are to increase the level of national security in Poland. However, the HFHR maintains that the proposals address the threats that do not exist. The Helsinki Foundation recalls that since the 1990s the number of refugees arriving in Poland each year has varied between few and less than twenty thousand. So far, the refugees posed no threat to the public safety. Poland is not a destination of the mass influx of foreigners from Africa or Asia.

The HFHR is concerned that the proposed border procedure may be abused. Such an abuse may result from the Border Guard personnel’s arbitrary assessment of the purpose of foreigners’ arrival. The foreign nationals deemed not to be eligible for international protection will automatically be detained and their cases heard in accelerated proceedings, without a proper inquiry into their individual situation.

“It is sad that in the world plagued by wars and persecution Polish authorities do not give priority to helping people fearing for their safety but instead close borders to refugees”, says Danuta Przywara, HFHR President of the Board.

NGOs assistance for foreigners

In an interview for a morning news programme broadcast on the public radio, Minister Błaszczak claimed that Polish authorities had foiled the opening of another migration route through Poland. The Minister said that for this reason he was criticised by non-governmental organisations that act for the granting of entry to Poland for economic migrants.

Let us remind our readers that under the applicable law every foreign national may apply for international protection in Poland and should be allowed to stay in Poland for the duration of the proceedings. We oppose the practice of rejecting asylum applications at the border crossing station in Terespol precisely because such a practice is illegal.

The Minister further stated that some EU-funded non-governmental organisations educated economic migrants from Asia in how to effectively submit asylum applications and deceive immigration services. In response to this statement, the HFHR would like to note that the activities of the non-governmental sector in Poland is regulated by law. The NGOs supporting migrants act to inform foreigners about the available legal options for seeking international protection in Poland. However, it is duly appointed state authorities that ultimately resolve whether a given foreign national is or is not a refugee.

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