Poland banned from sending illegal migrants back to Belarus
Asylum seekers who successfully made it across the Belarusian border and into Poland must not be expelled and cannot legally be returned, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled, following a complaint by 198 migrants.
The ruling follows last month’s massive growth in the number of refugees on the Belarus-Poland border. The migrant crisis began earlier this year, with people, mainly from the Middle East, flocking to Minsk in an attempt to cross over into the EU. The situation escalated on November 6, when several thousand asylum seekers marched together to the border. Some of them tried to enter Polish territory by breaking down the barbed wire fence.
In November, some migrants successfully made it across the frontier. However, despite Poland wanting to send them back, Warsaw has been told that it is illegal. A group of refugees appealed to the ECHR, which ruled in their favor.
“In most cases, the applicants claim to be on Polish territory allegedly with a view to seeking international protection… They allege that their lives will be in danger if they are sent back to Belarus and, in some cases, subsequently to their countries of origin,” the ECHR ruling states, explaining that it received 47 applications from 198 migrants. The Court agreed with 43 out of the 47.
“In the majority of applications… [the Court] ruled that the applicants should not be removed from Poland if they were indeed on Polish territory.”
The migrant crisis began in June when Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said his government would no longer help the EU stop illegal immigration. He stands accused by Brussels of “weaponizing” migrants by flying them into his country and transporting them to the border, allegedly as part of a “hybrid war” against the West. Minsk has denied the accusations.