Poland: Legislators support restrictions on access to border areas

Polish legislators have approved new regulations, authorizing the government to declare that all areas along the national border are prohibited from entering, except for residents and those living, working or studying in designated restricted areas

Warsaw, Poland – Polish legislators approved new regulations on Tuesday, authorizing the government to declare that areas along the national border are forbidden to everyone except residents and those living, working or studying in designated restricted areas.

When passing a legal amendment to Poland’s 3,511-kilometer (2,200-mile) border, the lower house of parliament or the House of Commons also rejected amendments proposed by the Senate, including amendments to allow journalists to freely enter restricted areas.

The state of emergency implemented at the border between Poland and Belarus in September will expire on Thursday. The regulations approved on Tuesday are intended to replace it and provide measures for long-term bans.

President Andrzej Duda signed these regulations into law on Tuesday night for prompt publication and implementation.

Members of the Polish right-wing ruling coalition dominate the House of Commons, and the Parliament voted to grant the Minister of the Interior a 15-km (9-mile) restricted area for security reasons, according to the recommendation of the head of the National Border Guard Agency.

The captain of the border guard has the right to allow selected journalists to enter the restricted area within a limited time.

The senator hopes that journalists will be allowed to enter the Belarusian border area so that they can directly report on the situation there and verify or question Belarusian claims, which allows journalists to be on the border side.

The Polish government argues that banning most people from entering the border area will help guards better perform their work, especially during the current confrontation with Belarus, when European refugees and immigrants are trying to enter Poland illegally.

The Ministry of the Interior stated that the designation of no entry would also facilitate the planned construction of a 5.5-meter (18-foot) barrier on the border with Belarus starting in early December.

Some legal experts describe the amendments as anti-democratic because they allow the Minister of the Interior to take action without seeking parliamentary approval.

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