Human Rights Watch: Belarus Migrant Crisis Leads to Serious Human Rights Violations

The report “Die Here or Go to Poland” reports on severe abuses for both sides of the border, HRW says. In October, the organization visited both countries and interviewed 19 people, including single men, families with children and women travelling alone.

 

According to the organization, people stuck at Belarus’ border with Poland said they are sometimes violently pushed back by Polish border guards, despite asking for asylum. There are also many allegations of violence, inhuman and degrading treatment and coercion by the Belarusian border guards.

“Although Belarus created this situation without regard for human consequences, Poland shares responsibility for the acute suffering in the border region,” said Lydia Gall, a researcher at HRW. “Men, women and children are sent back and forth across the border for days or weeks in frigid weather, desperately in need of humanitarian aid blocked by both sides.”

According to HRW, Belarusian and Polish authorities have an obligation to avoid further deaths by ensuring regular humanitarian access to people trapped in the border area. Also, both countries must immediately stop the pushbacks and admit independent observers, such as journalists and human rights activists, HRW said.

According to the human rights organization, it sometimes even involves torture by Belarus. “Authorities must immediately cease the abuses and hold accountable those responsible for the abuses.” The Polish border guards violate the right to asylum and expose people to inhumane and degrading conditions, it sounds.

According to HRW, the European Commission must show solidarity with the victims at the border, Gall said. “Belarus (which is not a member of the EU, ed.) may have orchestrated the crisis, but that does not absolve Poland and the EU institutions from their human rights obligations. Brussels must pressure Warsaw to put the preservation of life at the centre of the response.”

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