Poland's pushback law breaches the Geneva convention

Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to claim #asylum, i.e. the right “to seek and to enjoy (...) asylum from #persecution”. Moreover, article 31 of the 1951 #RefugeesConvention states that #asylumseekers “shall not be penalized solely by reason of unlawful entry or because, being in need of refuge and protection, they remain illegally in a country”.


This translates into the right of any individual to be given access to the #internationalprotection system which may then guarantee asylum if the requirements are met, regardless of whether the person crossed the border legally or illegally. It follows that, according to the general guidelines of the mentioned treaties, local authorities of asylum seekers’ countries of arrival are obliged to guarantee their applications for international protection are properly processed.


On 14th October, 2021, the #Polishparliament enacted an amendment to its existing #migrationlaw which obliges individuals who have crossed the Polish #border illegally to leave the country’s territory and bans them from entering #Poland again for a period ranging from six months to three years. What is more, the new law also authorizes border guards to refuse to examine asylum seekers’ asylum applications in case they crossed the border #undocumented.


Polish human rights NGOs have been rightfully accusing the Polish government of misconduct, as this amendment clearly endangers the respect of article 14 of the Declaration on Human Rights on the right to claim asylum and article 31 of the 1951 #GenevaConvention on illegal crossings. As pointed out by Christine Goyer, #UNHCR representative in Poland, the Republic of Poland is a signatory of both the aforementioned treaties and, therefore, it is not justifiable to adopt laws that openly violate the norms of human rights contained in signed international agreements.

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