Human Rights Watch said Belarus and Poland have committed “serious human rights violations” against migrants and asylum seekers at the border between the two countries.
According to the organization’s report, the two governments “are obligated to prevent new deaths, by ensuring regular humanitarian access for people stranded at the borders.”
The organization’s researchers indicated that they conducted in-depth interviews with 19 people whose testimonies revealed that some of them were “pushed, sometimes violently, by the Polish border guards.”
Human Rights Watch explained that this response “violates the right of asylum enshrined in European law.” She urged the European Union to “begin showing solidarity with the victims at the borders on both sides, who are suffering and dying.”
In Belarus, the organization emphasized that “violence, inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as pressure (by) Belarusian border guards, were commonplace.”
She added that such treatment could “in some cases amount to acts of torture, in violation of Belarus’ international legal obligations”.
“At a time when Belarus created this situation without regard for the humanitarian consequences, Poland shares with it the responsibility for the acute suffering in the border region,” said Lydia Gall, an expert on Europe and Central Asia at the organization – in a statement.
The report notes that 3 people have accused Polish border guards of separating their families from their children, by taking people in need of health care to hospital and returning others to Belarus.
The expert urged Minsk and Warsaw to “put an end to the (migrant) turnout and allow independent monitors – especially journalists and human rights defenders – access to border areas that are currently subject to restrictions.”
Aid groups estimate that at least 11 people have died on both sides of the border since the crisis began this summer.