Lockdown continues, deportations too

deportations from poland during coronavirusYou might be wondering what happens to the people who are to be deported from Poland by the Border Guard now, during the pandemic.

Perhaps you ask yourselves: How come? Haven’t the borders been closed? Flights suspended? And movement restricted to the absolute minimum? Sheer logic demands a similar ban on deportations during the pandemic. Only this way can we avoid the needless risk to the deportees’ or the border guards’ health. 

The logic and the basic humanitarian principles clearly indicate that deportations should be suspended. Apparently, however, decisions by the Polish government are not based on either of them. Deportations have not ceased, but are still carried out by land transport and affect mainly people of Chechen origin. Most of them are brought to the border with the Kaliningrad District by road transport. This is where the Russian guards take over to finalize the process internally. We tried to stop one such deportation last week; sadly, to no avail.

None of the legal regulations crafted for the current crisis protects foreigners from deportation during the state of epidemic. 

Most of the deportees are Chechen. Meanwhile, the Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov encourages infringement of human rights, including the right to life, only to fight the pandemic. On March 24, 2020, in a TV interview, Kadyrov announced that persons who breach the quarantine “deserve to die”. His words can easily legitimize abuse of power or acts of self-administered justice targeting persons only accused of the violation, and thus threaten the safety of the deportees. Kadyrov’s pandemic policy provides a new ground for humanitarian or tolerated stay in Poland, potentially allowing the foreigners who have been denied protection to reapply. However, it is hardly possible for foreigners to file such an application and exercise their right under the circumstances as offices have limited their operations and legal help is available with great difficulty.    

We hold the decision by the Polish government to carry out deportations during a pandemic of a life-threatening disease for a disgraceful infringement of basic human rights, including the right to life. Why do the decision-makers, who declare their commitment to protect each and every life and levy ever new restrictions on the Polish citizens in the name of health protection, decide to put the life of foreigners and guards to danger with such ease? Deportations from Poland should stop for the good of us all. We call the Prime Minister to include relevant regulations in the so-called Anti-Crisis Shield.