'Road to Nowhere': Court Rules for Chechen Refugee Denied Entry to Poland

A Polish court has found in favor of a refugee from Chechnya whose rights were violated upon attempting to enter Poland under international humanitarian protection.
The Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw has ruled in favor of a refugee from Chechnya whose application for international protection, filed at the border crossing station in Terespol, was denied by the Polish Border Guard.

The Border Guard's decision to reject the application was accompanied by an order refusing entry to Poland, which was based on a memo by a Border Guard officer at the station that said the refugee sought entry for economic gain.

Memo not enough

In its judgment, the court held that a memo indicating that a foreigner wants to enter Poland for lucrative purposes may not be sufficient evidence of the true motives guiding that foreigner to enter the country.

The court held that in such situations, a report should always be drafted, and that this report must include the foreigner’s signature confirming the truthfulness of information presented in the document.

“We are happy with this ruling and we expect that it will have an impact on the working practices of Border Guard officers in Terespol. We hope that foreign nationals’ applications for international protection will be properly documented and accepted for review," says Daniel Witko, a lawyer representing the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR) before the Provincial Administrative Court.

When civil rights attorneys traveled to the Terespol border station to represent refugees pro bono, most were prevented from even speaking with their clients.

'A road to nowhere'

The HFHR has repeatedly sounded the alarm about the situation at the Brest-Terspol border crossing station and emphasized that Border Guard officers regularly disregard laws and procedures governing the acceptance of asylum applications submitted by foreign nationals.

The issues are clearly illustrated in the HFHR's report “A road to nowhere” and a video account of the visit of attorneys and representatives of NGOs at the border crossing station, during which attempts were made to offer assistance to foreign nationals applying for international protection. Ultimately, most of the attorneys were not allowed to confer with their clients and foreign applicants were not provided with an interpreter.

The HFHR joined the case before the Provincial Administrative Court as a community organization, and the foreign national was represented pro bono by attorney Jacek Białas.

The court’s decision is not final.