The government has adopted a draft amendment to the law on the protection of the state border, the Prime Minister’s office announced on Monday. The act is to regulate the situation on the border after the end of the state of emergency in the area adjacent to Belarus. Among other things, it provides for the possibility of introducing a temporary ban on staying in a specific area of the border zone. Such a ban is to be introduced by way of an ordinance issued by the minister of internal affairs. For breaking it, there will be a penalty of arrest or a fine.
The state of emergency applies in the border zone with Belarus until the end of November. After its completion, the situation will be regulated by the Act on the protection of the state border, as amended by the Ministry of the Interior. The head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration, Mariusz Kamiński, spoke last week about the work on the amendment to the act. – After the end of the state of emergency – which will expire at the end of the month – we will introduce an amendment to the act, which will de facto extend what is presently, but in a flexible manner, taking into account various types of comments – he announced.
As reported on Monday evening by the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, the bill was adopted by the government.
Act on the protection of the state border
As we read in the draft, “in the event of the need to ensure safety or public order in the border area in connection with the threat to human life or health or property resulting from crossing the state border in violation of the law or attempting to cross it, or a justified risk of committing other prohibited acts, a temporary ban may be introduced to stay in a specific area in the frontier zone adjacent to the state border constituting the external border within the meaning of the provisions of the Schengen Borders Code “.
The said ban may be introduced by means of a regulation by the minister competent for internal affairs, after consulting the commander-in-chief of the Border Guard. The draft indicates that such a decision is to be made “guided by the need to ensure the protection of the state border and its inviolability, security and public order in the border zone, in particular in the area directly adjacent to the state border, the need to ensure the safety of officials and employees of state services, and soldiers and employees of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland performing official tasks at the state border, as well as the need to meet the international obligations of the Republic of Poland “.
The draft lists who will not be banned. These are, inter alia, people who: “permanently reside, run a business, perform paid work, work on farms located in the prohibited area”, people who “study or care for people studying in the prohibited area” , but also people who “are in the prohibited area in order to settle a matter in a public administration office or to exercise or participate in religious worship”.
The prohibition does not apply to: “crews traveling in emergency medical vehicles and other intervention services and people transported in these vehicles in connection with the activities conducted by these crews or services”, “persons moving directly to entities performing medical activities (…) in in order to take advantage of health benefits “and” officers and employees of state services as well as soldiers and employees of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland performing official tasks “.
“In justified cases, the locally competent commander of the Border Guard checkpoint may permit the stay, for a specified period of time and under certain conditions, in the prohibited area (…) of persons other than those listed” – indicated in the draft, stating that it is “in particular about journalists “.
A person not entitled to stay in the prohibited area is to be subject to “the penalty of arrest or a fine”.
As we read in the draft, “persons staying in the area where the ban was introduced (…) are required to have an identity card or other document confirming their identity”.
Crisis on the border with Belarus
Since the spring, the number of attempts to illegally cross the Belarusian border with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland by migrants from the Middle East, Africa and other regions has increased sharply. The EU and its member states believe that this is the result of deliberate actions by the regime of Alexander Lukashenka, which instrumentally uses migrants in response to sanctions.
From September 2 this year. due to the migratory pressure in 183 localities in the voivodeship Podlaskie and Lubelskie, adjacent to the border with Belarus, a state of emergency is in force. It was introduced for 30 days under the ordinance of President Andrzej Duda issued at the request of the Council of Ministers. On September 30, the Seym agreed to extend the state of emergency for 60 days, and a day later the president’s decree in this matter was published. This means that the state of emergency will cease to apply at the end of November.
During the first half of 2022, a 180 km long and 5.5 m high dam is to be built along the Podlasie section of the border with Belarus. Along the border, motion sensors as well as day and night cameras will be installed.
Main photo source: PAP / Artur Reszko