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Poland: Deportations continued despite the nationwide lockdown

In response to coronavirus outbreak EU member states provided restrictive measures to limit  migration. In March EU leaders confirmed the closure of the EU’s external and Schengen borders and  banned "non-essential" travel to the bloc. Restrictions aimed to tackle the Coronavirus public health crisis put under the question the right to asylum in some member states.

he Hungarian government used the coronavirus outbreak as an excuse to abolish the right to asylum in Hungary. Similarly, Greece has blocked any new asylum applications, although  the ban have to be lifted on the 1st of April,  all asylum services remain frozen. Although Poland didn’t announce officially the suspension of new asylum application, human rights  and migrant organizations said that  Border Guards denied the access to the asylum procedure at the external borders. 

 Despite the nationwide lockdown and suspension of  asylum procedures, social organizations alarm about further violations of human rights in Poland. The Border Guard continue deportations of rejected asylum seekers to Chechnya, where under the authoritarian regime of Ramsan Kadyrov people face the high risk of prosecution and sentencing. In March the Chechen president called for tough measures for everyone, who violates the quarantine, comparing them to terrorists, and indicated the death penalty as the best punishment.  

As the media resource OKO.press states, the Polish authorities intentionally prevent asylum seekers from legal assistance. The Border Guards informs about the decision the night before the deportation, what makes it impossible for advocates to intervene. As all international commercial flights are banned, people are transferred by car to the Kaliningrad Region, undergo the quarantine, and afterwards, they are transported to Moscow and Chechnya. It remains unknown how much deportations have been realized since the Polish Government announced the state of epidemia.

Kseniya Homel
NIEM’s National Advocacy Officer
The European and Migration Policy Programme
Institute of Public Affairs

Wirusem w uchodźców. Przejście graniczne zamknięte, ale deportacje trwają, [23.04.2020]. 
Lockdown trwa. Deportacje też, [17.04.2020]. 
Кадыров приравнял носителей коронавируса к террористам, [27.03.2020]. 
Which migrant services in Europe are suspended or reduced due to COVID-19? [18.03.2020].
Orban uses coronavirus as excuse to suspend asylum rights in Hungary,  [03.03.2020].