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Poland: lawmakers approve restriction of access to border areas


Polish lawmakers have approved new regulations allowing the government to declare areas along the country’s borders off-limits to everyone except residents and people who live, work or study in designated areas with no access.

WARSAW, Poland – Polish lawmakers on Tuesday approved new regulations allowing the government to declare areas along the country’s borders closed to everyone except residents and people who live, work or study in areas of the country. ‘access prohibited.

In passing the amendments to the law on the 3,511 kilometers (2,200 miles) of Poland’s borders, the lower house of parliament, or Sejm, also rejected proposed changes to the Senate, including one that would have allowed journalists to freely access restricted areas.

The state of emergency established along the Polish-Belarusian border in September expires on Thursday. The regulation approved on Tuesday aims to replace it and provide for a long-term entry ban.

President Andrzej Duda promulgated the regulations on Tuesday evening, allowing their swift publication and implementation.

Members of the right-wing ruling coalition in Poland dominate the Sejm, which voted to give the Minister of the Interior the power to designate no-access bands 15 kilometers wide for security reasons on the recommendation of the head of the national border guard agency. .

The head of border guards has the power to grant selected journalists access to restricted areas for a limited period.

The senators wanted journalists to be allowed to enter the area along the border with Belarus so that they could directly report the situation there and verify or challenge the accounts of Belarus, which allows journalists on its side. from the border.

The Polish government has argued that banning most people from border areas would help the guards do their jobs better, especially as refugees and migrants to Europe try to enter Poland illegally. during the current stalemate with Belarus.

The Interior Ministry said the no-access designation would also facilitate construction, which is expected to begin in early December, of a 5.5-meter-high (18-foot-high) barrier on the border with Belarus.

Some legal experts have called the amendments anti-democratic because they allow the interior minister to act without seeking parliamentary approval.

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