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Poland: New Law on Border Security Management

On Tuesday, November 30, President Andrzej Duda signed an amendment to the act on the protection of the Polish state border.

According to the official justification for introducing the new law, "it is intended to increase the effectiveness of actions taken by the Border Guard to protect the state border of the Republic of Poland in the event of a threat to state security or public order, and to improve the safety of Border Guard officers carrying out tasks related to the protection of the state border ".

The new regulations enable issuing a temporary ban on entering the border area. The ban may be introduced in particularly vulnerable areas along the external border line - with Belarus, Ukraine and Russia - by order of the head of the Ministry of Interior and Administration, after consulting the commander-in-chief of the Border Guard.

Residents, people taking part in religious worship or those running their business activities there will be excluded from the ban taking part in religious worship. Moreover, the ban will not apply to ambulance crews and other emergency services, as well as officers and soldiers on duty. For a specified period of time and under certain conditions, the commander of the Border Guard will be able to allow other people, in particular journalists, to enter the area.

After the parliamentary debates, the Senate introduced eight amendments to the law passed on November 17, nevertheless all proposals were rejected by the Sejm. The regulation was processed as a matter of urgency.

The Senate's amendments stipulated, among others, that the prohibition of stay would not apply to journalists or representatives of organizations providing humanitarian, medical and legal aid. One of the proposed changes would limit the area where a ban may be imposed to the area of the current state of emergency, i.e. a strip of 183 towns adjacent to the Belarusian border. Another amendment cancelled the possible penalty of arrest for breaking the prohibition of entry.

The new provisions stipulated in the amendment also abolish the upper age limit for newly recruited Border Guard officers and regulate the professional qualifications required to appoint them to a service position. It also expands the catalogue of direct coercive measures that can be used by Border Guard officers with knapsack throwers of incapacitating substances. Until now, only the police could have used such devices.

The new regulations entered into force on the 1st of December, one day following the date of their announcement, with the exception of the regulations governing the service of Border Guard officers, which will enter into force on January 1, 2022.