Statement of Human Constanta on the incident on the Belarusian-Polish border

Human Constanta
1 March 2018

On February 28, the portal My Brest reported that on February 26 border guards have detained two citizens of the Russian Federation. They are trying to illegally cross the Belarusian-Polish border. These two people are forced migrants from the Chechen Republic.
During February 2018, at least 16 times they tried to apply for a refugee status to the Polish authorities at the Terespol border post. However, in violation of the international standards, the Polish border guards ignored their requests and sent them back. Certainly, in despair, the men decided to attempt to illegally cross the border. According to the information published in the article, the issue of bringing the detainees to administrative responsibility in the form of deportation with a ban on entry into Belarus for up to 5 years is now under consideration.

Our opinion

Human Constanta strongly does not support actions on the illegal border crossing, and in each consultation we tell asylum seekers about the consequences and wrongfulness of such actions. And yet we want to again draw attention to the problem that forced these people to take such a step.

In the recent report of our organization we noted that

  • 16% of the forced migrants who apply for the refugee status at the Terespol border post were tortured in the country of residence;
  • 12% escaped from the ritual of “blood feud”;
  • 6.5% fled from domestic violence.

The Polish Border Guard Service in Terespol every day arbitrarily without any grounds refuses the majority of petitioners in accepting the applications for international protection and returns them to Belarus. For months, the families are forced to live in Brest, trying to travel by train to Terespol and cross the border, each time stating that they ask to consider granting refugee status. After dozens of unsuccessful attempts they usually are run out of money or the term of their stay in Belarus expires. In this case, they are forced to return to their homeland, where they are in danger, or stay in Belarus violating the rules of residence. The return of these people to Chechnya can threaten them with torture or even death. After the people are handed over to the Chechen authorities the communication with them is being lost, their lawyers cannot find out where they are or what is happening to them, as happened with Imran Salamov.

Situations similar the one which happened are the gesture of the people driven to despair. We once again ask the international community to pay attention to violations of international agreements by the Polish border guard service.

Human Constanta calls on the Polish authorities to:

1. Ensure the enforcement of international and national law on the right of foreigners to seek asylum from persecution at the Brest-Terespol border;

2. Immediately conduct an inter-departmental inspection and evaluate the actions of the Border Guards Service in Terespol;

3. Admit observers from the international and national human rights organizations to the border point;

4. Provide technical and organizational opportunities for simultaneous receipt of more refugees based on the actual flow of applications;

5. Coordinate actions to resolve the crisis with the responsible Belarusian authorities.

We call on the Belarussian authorities to:

1. Provide, within the limits of available resources, the possibility for the families of the asylum seekers traveling in transit for a short time (not more than 90 days) with the accommodation. These can be premises, public hotels, rental housing.

2. Develop effective legal mechanisms for the protection of foreign citizens and stateless persons in case of their forced migration from the country of origin;

3. Refrain from the deporting or “transferring” the citizens of the Russian Federation who left the North Caucasus to the law enforcement bodies of the Russian Federation based on placing them in an interstate wanted list, to follow the extradition procedure in such cases.

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