In a letter addressed to the Minister for the Interior of Latvia, Māris Kučinskis, published today, the Commissioner raises concerns about the reported continuation of pushbacks at the Latvian-Belarusian border which has led to severe injuries suffered by men, women and children and the death of one man.
“I am alarmed by the fact that a criminal investigation was initiated against two members of the organisation ‘I want to help refugees’ who went to the border area on 12 January 2023 out of concern for the lives of seven Syrians", she writes, stressing the key role of human rights defenders and the duty of states to create an enabling environment for them.
The Commissioner expresses concern about the continued state of emergency, which hinders the provision of direly needed humanitarian assistance at the border and prevents public scrutiny. She stresses that “border control must be exercised in full compliance with a state’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the absolute prohibition of refoulement. The human rights of those arriving must be safeguarded even during challenging conditions and including when they attempt to cross in an irregular manner.”