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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Amendment to the law on border protection published. The Journal of Laws also include three ordinances of the head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration, one on a temporary ban on staying at the border

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The amendment to the act on border protection, signed by President Andrzej Duda, was published in the Journal of Laws. Three ordinances of the head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration, Mariusz Kamiński, were also published, the issue of which is allowed by the amendment. In one of them we read that “a temporary ban on staying in a specific area in the border zone adjacent to the state border with the Republic of Belarus is introduced for the period from December 1, 2021 to March 1, 2022”.

On Tuesday, the Sejm rejected all eight Senate amendments to the amendment to the law on border protection. The president signed it a few hours later. This was announced by the head of the president’s cabinet, Paweł Szrot. Then it was published in the Journal of Laws.

SEE THE ENTIRE AMENDMENT OF THE BORDER PROTECTION ACT >>>

Regulations of the head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration published in the Journal of Laws

The Journal of Laws also published three ordinances of the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration, Mariusz Kamiński, issued pursuant to the amendment.

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One of them concerns the introduction of a temporary ban on staying in a specific area in the border zone adjacent to the border with Belarus. It reads that “a temporary ban on staying in a specific area in the border zone adjacent to the state border with the Republic of Belarus is introduced for the period from December 1, 2021 to March 1, 2022”.

It was added that this area “includes the registration areas the list of which is set out in the Annex to the Regulation”. These are 183 localities – 115 from the Podlaskie Voivodeship and 68 from the Lubelskie Voivodeship. This is the same area where the state of emergency was introduced.

>> Regulation on the introduction of a temporary ban on staying in a certain area in the border zone

The second regulation concerns “the introduction of a temporary ban on carrying weapons and moving them in unloaded condition in the area of ​​Podlaskie and Lubelskie voivodships adjacent to the state border with the Republic of Belarus”. The ban is introduced from 1 December to 1 March 2022 in the area of ​​183 localities previously covered by the state of emergency, listed in the annex to the regulation.

>> Ordinance on the temporary ban on carrying weapons and moving them in an unloaded state

The third is a document amending the regulation on the armaments of the Border Guard. The regulation allows the use of overwhelming chemical agents by Border Guard officers. The catalog of these measures includes hand-held and knapsack incapacitating substance launchers, tear-grenades, and other devices designed to throw incapacitating agents.

All regulations will apply from December 1, 2021.

>> The ordinance amending the ordinance on the armaments of the Border Guard

Deputy head of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration on the rules of allowing the presence of journalists

Earlier, the deputy head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration, Błażej Poboży, said that “the regulation in the new legal formula will regulate the situation at the border”. – The no-go area will be the same as the area currently in a state of emergency. For now, we are introducing these solutions for three months – he said.

The deputy minister stressed that “the only important difference regarding the presence of journalists will be defined in the rules to be followed by the commanding officer of the Border Guard”. – They will be communicated soon – said Poboży.

What about journalists on the Polish-Belarusian border?

Due to the crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border, a state of emergency has been in force since 2 September in 183 towns in the Podlaskie and Lubelskie voivodships adjacent to the border with Belarus. It was introduced for 30 days under the ordinance of President Andrzej Duda issued at the request of the Council of Ministers. The Seym agreed to extend the state of emergency for another 60 days, that is until the end of November. This means that it expires on Tuesday at midnight. Journalists have no access to the area under the state of emergency. When reporting on the events at the border, the media can use almost exclusively official government recordings and information.

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The Sejm rejected the Senate’s amendments to the amendment to the law on border protectionTVN24

The state of emergency is to be replaced by the provisions contained in the amendment adopted by the Sejm. It assumes the possibility of introducing a temporary ban on staying in the border zone. Such a ban may be introduced in particularly vulnerable areas along the external border line by way of an ordinance of the head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration, after consulting the chief commander of the Border Guard. The ban will be exempt from, inter alia, residents or people running a business there. For a specified period of time and under certain conditions, the commander of the Border Guard will be able to allow other people, including journalists, to stay there.

The Senate introduced amendments on Friday according to which the ban would not apply to journalists nor representatives of organizations whose purpose is to provide humanitarian, legal and medical aid. The provisions enabling the ban, according to one of the amendments, would expire three months after entry into force. Other Senate change would limit the area in which access to the area currently under a state of emergency could be banned. A further amendment would delete the possible penalty of detention for breaking the prohibition of stay, leaving only a fine. Senators also added a provision according to which the head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration and General Headquarters of the Border Guard would report to the Sejm on the prohibition in force every 30 days.

However, all of these corrections are gone in the Seym.

Border Guard at the Polish-Belarusian borderborder guards

Compensation for entrepreneurs and changes for Border Guard officers

The amendment, apart from introducing the prohibition regulations, also changes the act on compensation for entrepreneurs operating in the state of emergency, so that compensation will also be given to those operating in the area where the prohibition will apply.

In the amendments, the senators wanted to supplement the catalog of entrepreneurs who are entitled to compensation with those engaged in activities related to culture, entertainment, recreation and tourist transport. They also wanted to delete the provision that the compensation constitutes de minimis aid. Their proposals, however, did not receive support in the Sejm.

The amendment also abolishes the upper age limit for newly recruited Border Guard officers and regulates the professional qualifications required to appoint them to a service position. It also expands the catalog of direct coercive measures that can be used by Border Guard officers with knapsack throwers of incapacitating substances. Currently, only the police can use such throwers.

The amendment to the law on border protection will enter into force on the day following the date of its announcement, with the exception of the provisions regulating the service of Border Guard officers, which will enter into force on January 1, 2022.

Parliamentary committee against the amendments

On Monday, the amendment was dealt with by the Sejm’s Administration and Internal Affairs Committee, which recommended that all amendments introduced by the Senate be rejected.

Member of the Civic Coalition Robert Tyszkiewicz – in favor of one of the amendments of the upper house – said that “we will not win the propaganda war with (Alexander – ed.) Lukashenka and (Vladimir – ed.) Putin, if Polish professional journalists do not operate in the border zone. “. As he added, the Senate’s amendment would give journalists “statutory, and not dependent on the decision” of the commander of the Border Guard post, access to report on the events at the border.

Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration, Maciej Wąsik, replied that the amendment would change the essence of the act and would lead to journalists being able to move around the zone covered by the activities of the services in an unlimited way. – We want to prevent that. I would like to remind you that one of the objectives of this law is the possibility of journalists entering this zone, but in an orderly manner, in a manner specified by the Border Guard – he said.

In the context of possibly enabling the presence of representatives of humanitarian organizations at the border, MP Tyszkiewicz said that their presence was expected, inter alia, by border zone residents. – The local people cannot be held responsible for helping – he pointed out. KO deputy Katarzyna Piekarska asked the deputy head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration why the government did not want to let the Polish Red Cross there.

Wąsik replied that there are currently 15,000 soldiers, 4,000 border guards and 2,000 policemen at the border. – Each of these people can help. Anyone who needs it – whether legally or illegally – receives such help, he said. In his opinion, there is no problem with the operation of a humanitarian organization three kilometers from the border, outside the state of emergency. MP Tyszkiewicz also explained that the Senate – due to the amendment concerning the loss of binding force by the ban 3 months after the entry into force – wants to make the act more consistent with the spirit of the constitution. – It is difficult to consider that it is consistent with the idea of ​​the constitution to give a state official of powers that the constitution did not grant even to the president, i.e. the possibility of imposing a ban for an unlimited period of time – he said.

Wąsik argued that “we are not able to say today how long this crisis will last”. “We must possibly be prepared for a long march,” he added. He also argued that the restriction of the area in which the ban could apply, proposed by the Senate, would make it possible to introduce it only in two provinces. – If there was a situation where this crisis spreads to other areas, to other borders, for example Polish-Ukrainian, then we will need regulations that allow for the introduction of such restrictions – said Wąsik.

The Ombudsman and the Senate Legislative Office oppose the amendment

The act was criticized by the Legislative Office of the Senate. His representative emphasized, inter alia, that the provision under which a ban on staying in the border area may be introduced, violates “the essence of the constitutional freedom of movement within the territory of the Republic of Poland and the choice of place of residence and stay in this territory”. In the opinion of Senate legislators, the draft of this law should not be considered urgently in the Sejm, as it regulates the competence of public authorities.

Senate committees recommend adopting the law on border protection as amended

Senate committees recommend adopting the law on border protection as amendedTVN24

Similarly the act was assessed by the Human Rights Defenderaccording to which its solutions directly interfere with fundamental constitutional freedoms. – First of all, in moving around the territory of the country, choosing a place of residence and stay as well as freedom of expression and disseminating information, as well as in private and family life in a way that is constitutionally unacceptable – said the representative of the Ombudsman, Mirosław Wróblewski. According to Wróblewski, the provision concerning the introduction of the ban on residence under the regulation also gives “a large margin of discretion to the minister” of internal affairs and administration. – The minister, acting in accordance with this provision of the act, could set the duration of the ban both for 30 days and for three years – said the representative of the Human Rights Defender.

Main photo source: border guards



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