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Releasing information on a refugee violates Geneva Convention

According to media reports, Vietnamese officials visited in April the Białystok guarded centre for foreigners. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has issued a statement in the case to the Chief Commissioner of the Border Guard. Once again, the HFHR noted that any actions of the Border Guard which result in disclosing identification data of refugee applicants may violate the applicants’ rights.

A spokesperson for the Border Guard said that the Vietnamese officials visited the Centre in order to confirm the identities of foreigners, which was necessary for the purpose of issuing to them travel documents.

“In the case of foreigners currently subject to refugee proceedings, such action should be considered premature”, explains Marta Górczyńska, HFHR lawyer. “Until the proceedings are finally closed, these persons have the right to stay in Poland. Therefore, it is unreasonable to take any steps which lead to their deportation”, observes Ms Górczyńska.

Over the last several years, the HFHR has repeatedly voiced concerns regarding Polish authorities requests for the confirmation of a refugee’s identity directed at the latter’s country of origin. The Foundation has reiterated that according to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights the very fact that domestic authorities do not inform a diplomatic mission of a refugee’s country of origin about the pending refugee proceedings does not guarantee the secrecy of the refugee status application process.

“Actions taken by the Border Guard pose a risk not only to the applicants themselves, but also to their families remaining in their country of origin”, warns Marta Górczyńska. “In our assessment, these practices may violate the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as well as the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees”, she adds.

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