The Polish parliament voted on Thursday a invoice for a border wall with Belarus, a major escalation in its recent migration conflict with its neighbor. Poland has accused Belarus of allowing Middle Eastern migrants to transit through the country and enter Poland in revenge for EU sanctions against Belarus earlier this year.
Polish bill no. 1657 authorized the wall in the name of state border security and authorizes the Polish Minister of Interior to begin construction on border land obtained through the acquisition and purchase of private land if necessary. The bill outlines plans for the wall which include a physical barrier, border guard security facilities and infrastructure, as well as electronic and telecommunications security measures within 200 meters of the Polish-Belarusian border. The bill also authorizes the Polish government to deport asylum seekers who have entered Poland outside the legal channels of entry.
The bill provides a detailed rationale for the barrier, stating that Poland has experienced increasing migratory pressure from nearly 10,000 attempts to cross the Polish-Belarusian border in 2021 alone, with foreign nationals from Iraq. , Afghanistan, Syria, Russia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Iran and Turkey. The bill further asserts that the Belarusian state supports and subsidizes these displacements, with the aim of destabilizing the border of the Republic of Poland and the European Union more generally, and that the circumstances justify both a state of emergency and the immediate construction of a barrier.
Poland went under critical international groups this year for unilaterally refusing to allow migrants to enter from Belarus, denying them the opportunity to seek asylum in Poland when they were forced to wait at the border. Both the EU charter fundamental rights and the United Nations Universal Convention Declaration human rights guarantee everyone the right to seek asylum and prohibit collective expulsions. A full implementation of Thursday’s bill is expected to violate these agreements and could result in legitimate Polish asylum claims being rejected without appeal.