State of emergency. The spokesman for children’s rights, Mikołaj Pawlak, met with Border Guard officers at the border with Belarus. The Ombudsman’s office said in a statement that “it has not noticed any instances of using the push back method by the Polish Border Guard, or of leaving migrants in the woods or in a swamp”. “The spokesman has been monitoring the situation since the beginning of the migration crisis,” it was reported.
As the press team of the Office of the Ombudsman for Children informed, Mikołaj Pawlak went to the border with Belarus. The RPD spoke with officers of the Podlasie Border Guard, he also visited centers for foreigners. “The obtained explanations and information show that families with children who enter the territory of Poland and request them under the international protection procedure, are referred to centers for foreigners, where they await decisions of the Office for Foreigners” – we read in the release.
Ombudsman for Children on the border with Belarus
The RPD press team added that in the Podlasie region, there are currently 135 foreigners in the center in Białystok: 26 families and 64 children, and in the Czerwony Bór center there are 148 foreigners: 40 families and 61 children. “The total number of foreigners staying in Polish centers is 1,490 people” – it was written.
The RPD informed that officers of the Border Guard, the Police and the Polish Army “provide first aid medical and humanitarian to every child who has crossed the border illegally.” “The decision whether it will be covered by the international protection procedure, however, is made by his parents or guardians, and not by representatives of the Polish state” – it was written.
It was added that “in the event of a threat to the health or life of a child, regardless of the legal status of his stay on the territory of Poland, he or she is covered by specialist medical care in a medical facility”.
“The spokesman met with a family from Iraq – a married couple with a 6-year-old daughter who required a doctor’s intervention after crossing the border illegally. Border Guard officers called an ambulance. They were helped and looked after in the hospital. When the girl’s health improved, the whole family was placed under the international protection procedure “- wrote the RPD office.
Mikołaj Pawlak: migrants are provided with care
The RPD office said that “the centers are provided with 24-hour care, including medical care, and education for children, and the centers for foreigners are visited by employees of the RPD office”.
“The conditions of stay are generally assessed positively, and the vast majority of complaints from foreigners concern court decisions on deprivation of liberty. The Defender does not have the right to participate in proceedings under the Code of Criminal Procedure – such are detention cases. The Defender cannot appeal court decisions district authorities on placing a child in detention or extending the stay, also cannot submit applications for the release of a minor from detention “- it was written.
It was added that the RPD upholds the postulate to introduce to the Act on foreigners and the Act on granting protection to foreigners in the territory of the Republic of Poland a complete prohibition of administrative detention of minor foreigners. “In the opinion of the Ombudsman, such provisions should apply throughout the European Union, unfortunately, in most Member States, children are still under detention” – it was written.
Ombudsman for Children: there have been no cases of using the push back method
“The spokesman did not record any cases of using the push back method by the Polish Border Guard,” it was reported. “Transferring to the Belarusian side concerns migrants who, after having entered our country illegally, refuse protection from Poland because they want to go further to the west of Europe. The Polish Border Guard has no legal grounds to transport them to Germany. It would be a breach of international law and assistance in the illegal practice of smuggling people “- it was written.
As it was added, migrants who do not agree to be placed in the Polish center – after providing them with medical assistance – providing them with food and clothing, are legally transferred to the Belarusian side in safe conditions for them. “The Ombudsman for Children did not record cases of leaving migrants in the forest or in the swamp, as reported by some media” – it was written.
On the other hand, the Ombudsman confirmed – according to the communiqué – the cases of using children by the Belarusian services and migrants in order to persuade the Border Guard officers to withdraw from detention. “Children are, among other things, specially stripped and chilled,” it was written.
“The Ombudsman has been monitoring the situation since the beginning of the migration crisis. Thanks to constant, direct contact with the Border Guard, it was possible to save a family of migrants from Congo a few days ago. They illegally crossed the Polish border and got lost in a wet area in the forest. at night with the Border Guard and gave the GPS location of the lost group. Officers took the family out of the dangerous area and provided them with medical and humanitarian aid “- reported the RPD Office.
Later, in the statement, the Ombudsman informs that he noted cases of violence against migrants – also against children – by officers of the Belarusian services. “The information provided by migrants shows that there are cases of beatings and forcing to cross the border with Poland in dangerous, swampy areas. The Defender states that such actions violate basic human rights. There have also been cases of the Belarusian side providing migrants with tools to destroy Polish security border “- we read.
The Ombudsman deemed “unacceptable to publish the image of children, protected, inter alia, by the provisions on the protection of personal data, and appealed to Polish media, politicians and users of social networking sites to respect the rights of migrants, especially children, to privacy.”
He also praised “all people and organizations that help people, especially children and their families, who are wronged in the migration conflict”. “Particular recognition is due to the Border Guard officers who, while protecting Polish borders and our security, provide migrant children with far-reaching and often beyond their obligations humanitarian aid” – it was written.
The RPD considered “media attacks on Polish Border Guard officers to be groundless and harmful, based on false information and manipulations, often disseminated on purpose by the Belarusian and Russian sides”.
He also asked “all sides of the Polish political scene, the media and commentators to undertake joint actions to strengthen the protection of Polish borders, support the Border Guard officers, the police and soldiers of the Polish Army, and ensure the safety of the most vulnerable victims of the migration conflict – children and families, with respect for international and national law “.
Pawlak also declared his readiness to help in transferring humanitarian aid to the region affected by the migration crisis “from all persons and entities which, due to the state of emergency in force there, no longer have such a possibility”.
Border Guard on migrants from Michałów: the procedure was applied
At the end of September, Katarzyna Zdanowicz, spokeswoman for the Podlasie Border Guard Unit, answered the TVN24 reporter’s questions about the situation of children from Michałów. The spokeswoman said that migrants were “under the procedure in accordance with the regulation”. When asked if it meant that they had been taken back to the border, Zdanowicz replied: – Yes, they were brought to the border line and now they are in Belarus. The spokeswoman confirmed that there were women and children among the migrants. At that time, however, she could not say where they came from, how many there are and what age they are.
Additionally, she sent a message: “On September 27 this year, in Szymki, in the morning, 26 Iraqi citizens were revealed, including women and children, who had illegally crossed the Polish-Belarusian border.” “These persons were transported to the Border Guard Post in Michałów in order to verify their health condition and check the conditions and purpose of ‘entry’ to our country. on temporary suspension or limitation of border traffic at certain border crossing points “- she wrote.
“I would like to remind you that persons who do not belong to the category of persons listed in § 3 section 2 of the Regulation of the Ministry of Interior and Administration of August 20, 2021 (…) are informed about the obligation to immediately leave the territory of Poland. In the event of disclosure of such persons directly at the border crossing point on which the border traffic has been suspended or limited, as well as beyond the territorial range of the border crossing point, they are returned to the state border line “- she added.
State of emergency
From September 2, due to the migratory pressure in the border zone with Belarus in 183 localities in the voivodeship a state of emergency is in force in Podlasie and Lublin regions. It was introduced for 30 days under the ordinance of President Andrzej Duda, issued at the request of the Council of Ministers. On Thursday evening, the Seym agreed to extend the state of emergency for 60 days.
During this time, journalists do not have access to the area of the state of emergency and cannot report on events in the area. Representatives of aid organizations, medics and lawyers are also not allowed to stay there. They are appealing to let them help migrants.
The European Court of Human Rights decided that Poland must provide migrants staying at the Polish-Belarusian border with food, clothes, medical care, and access to contact with lawyers. Two attorneys, a legal advisor and an interpreter despite this were not admitted to migrants on Tuesday.
Janina Ochojska: We are dealing with a huge humanitarian crisis
Janina Ochojska, the founder of the Polish Humanitarian Organization, recently signaled that at the border “we are dealing with a huge humanitarian crisis”.
– I would like us all to understand that what is happening on this border will bear our responsibility. We are responsible for it. We, Polish citizens, she said. She emphasized that the migrants staying there are not “illegal people”.
Main photo source: TVN24