Law instead of a state of emergency: Poland further restricts access to the border

Law instead of a state of emergency
Poland continues to restrict access to the border

The state of emergency imposed by Poland on a three-kilometer-wide border strip with Belarus expired at midnight. Aid organizations and journalists will find it difficult to access the area in the future either. Parliament approved a law for further restrictions on freedom of movement and freedom of the press.

Poland wants to continue to restrict access to the border area with Belarus even after the state of emergency has expired. The ruling, signed by President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday, allows the government to block access to certain parts of the three-kilometer-wide border region depending on the location.

The controversial state of emergency that has been in force since September automatically expired at midnight. According to Polish law, the state of emergency can only be imposed for a maximum of three months. Warsaw had proclaimed it in response to thousands of migrants who want to enter the European Union via Belarus. This also banned journalists and aid organizations from entering the border area. Poland also erected a barbed wire fence and stationed thousands of soldiers along the 400-kilometer border.

The Polish Senate had spoken out in favor of giving media and aid organizations access to the border, but the MPs rejected the proposed amendment on Tuesday. The new regulation comes into force when it is published in the Official Journal. According to the opposition and human rights organizations, it gives the government too much power and violates the Polish Constitution.

Polish media estimate that at least twelve people died in the border area. The human rights organization Human Rights Watch had declared that “Belarus brought about this situation without considering the human consequences” and “Poland shares responsibility for the acute suffering in the border region”. Both countries committed “serious human rights violations” against migrants.

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