On Tuesday, the parliamentary administration and internal affairs committee recommended the adoption of a draft amendment to the act on the protection of the state border with amendments. The Civic Coalition wanted to reject the bill in its entirety, to which the commission did not agree. Opposition MPs say that the project was created, among other things, to prevent “Polish journalists from having access to this border.” – This is an unacceptable situation – said Paweł Zalewski from the Poland 2050 circle.
The government’s draft amendment, which was submitted to the Sejm on Monday, is intended to ensure the effectiveness of actions taken by the Border Guard to protect the border in the event of a threat to state security or public order. As indicated in its justification, the need for the proposed changes is directly related to the ongoing crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border.
16 MPs voted in favor of the bill and the amendments, 12 were against, and no one abstained. The Sejm is to start a debate on the bill on Tuesday, late in the evening.
KO wanted the project rejected
On behalf of the Koalicja Obywatelska club, Tomasz Szymański, Deputy Chairman of the Committee, KO MP, submitted a motion to reject the bill at first reading. As he emphasized, the project cannot be repaired because it is unconstitutional. In his opinion, it is an attempt to adopt “a legal prosthesis to the currently functioning legal order”. As he said, it is about sanctioning by a regulation “the possibility of limiting constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties”.
In this regard, the deputy referred to a legal opinion which clearly stated that the freedom of movement and stay in the territory of Poland may be restricted by the act “only in the event of a state of natural disaster, state of emergency or martial law”. – We are witnesses of shocking pictures on the border, but we have to act in such a way that nobody will hold us accountable later that we acted outside the law – emphasized Szymański.
Around 6.30 p.m. there was a vote on this motion. There were 14 MPs in favor of rejecting the bill in its entirety, and three abstaining against 19.
Wąsik: I was surprised to accept this request, and the justification was even weirder
Maciej Wąsik, Deputy Minister of the Interior, commented on the motion to reject the bill during the meeting. – I was surprised to receive the request submitted by MP Szymański, the justification was even stranger. I think they are behind our eastern border of forces that could have dictated this justification to you – he said.
He argued that the Polish constitution says that the freedom of movement and residence in the territory of the Republic of Poland may be subject to restrictions specified in the act. – And it is just such an act with certain limitations – he said.
At the same time, the deputy head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration recalled the assumptions of the draft, emphasizing that it was recognized that the restrictions introduced therein may prove necessary for the protection of public safety and order.
“The project is aimed at preventing Polish journalists from having access to this border”
Paweł Zalewski from the Poland 2050 circle assessed that this project was primarily aimed at “preventing Polish journalists from having access to this border”. – This law is therefore bad, very bad because it restricts civil liberties and introduces the instruments of the state of emergency to normal state – indicated the politician and announced amendments to the draft. As he said, it is an “unacceptable situation” that “Poles do not have any knowledge of what is happening on the border from Polish journalists”.
KO MP Piotr Borys thanked the services that defend our security on the border. He also argued that “unrestricted, free access for all journalists is necessary so that Polish women and Poles know what is happening at the border.” He announced an amendment in this regard. He also indicated that public benefit organizations should be able to provide humanitarian aid.
– We can effectively protect the border on the basis of the existing legal status without the need to introduce an illegal quasi-state of emergency – he said.
Another MP from the KO, Artur Łącki, said: – You did not let journalists into that area, and Alyaksandr Lukashenka did it and now the message all over the world, Europe, does not come from the Polish border, but comes from the Belarusian border.
Wąsik: journalists will work there according to the rules of the Border Guard
Maciej Wąsik, deputy head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration, then commented on the speeches by opposition deputies. He addressed them, saying: – If you cared so much about the comfort of work of Polish officers and soldiers, you would ask them: did the introduction of the state of emergency help them in their service, or did it harm them?
– Please talk to border guards, soldiers, policemen and you will find out that the effectiveness of the service, comfort and safety have increased. (…) They say: “yes, this is one of the key elements that helped us maintain the Polish border,” argued the deputy minister.
He added that officers and officers at the border should be given the possibility of “carrying out their duties in a relatively safe manner”. “They say this:” We do not want a situation where Belarusian border guards are standing with weapons ready to fire, migrants are standing in front of them, and a journalist next to us is trying to establish my identity. which will be determined by the Border Guard – he informed.
Wąsik: the permission for journalists will be issued by the commander of the Border Guard
Wąsik was asked who would issue a permit to introduce journalists to a given border area.
– He will issue a permit to introduce journalists to a given area, of course, the competent commander of the Border Guard and will define the rules – he replied.
– We do not want journalists to be in situations where there will be a certain clash with journalists from the other side, we want them to be at a safe distance, not to go where they should not, so that they would not disturb the services and the services would not interfere. them, ‘he added.
Bill on the frontier zone. What assumes
The project that the commission worked on on Tuesday allows for a temporary ban on staying in a certain area of the border area. The area and duration of the ban will be specified in the regulation of the minister of the interior and administration. The solution will not apply to residents of the prohibited area, people working there for gainful employment, as well as students or people using border crossings. The consent for the presence of other persons, in particular journalists, will be given by the locally competent commander of the Border Guard post
Main photo source: PAP / Paweł Supernak