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New legislation perpetuates restrictions and obstacles to protection of human rights on Poland’s eastern border

Statement
Strasbourg 01/12/2021
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New legislation perpetuates restrictions and obstacles to protection of human rights on Poland’s eastern border

Amendments to Poland’s Border Protection Act, adopted yesterday, effectively perpetuate many of the restrictive measures put in place by the country’s state of emergency, with negative effects on the freedom of movement, assembly, and expression on Poland’s eastern border.

During my recent mission to Poland, I observed the harmful impact that these measures had on the availability of humanitarian assistance, access of journalists and the related transparency, as well as the situation of human rights defenders and the welfare of the local population. It is deeply concerning that under the new legislation, the journalists’ access to the border will be subjected to special permissions while access by humanitarian actors, providers of legal aid and human rights monitors is not explicitly guaranteed.

The adoption of the new law means that their important work in protecting the human rights of migrants and refugees, preventing the unlawful practice of pushbacks, and ensuring the public opinion’s scrutiny over the human rights situation in the border areas, will be fraught to an even greater degree with difficulty and personal risk.