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28 July 2022, 17:04

Poland criticized for using water cannons on border

File photo
File photo

MINSK, 28 July (BelTA) - The use of water cannons against migrants and asylum seekers is excessive and disproportionate, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants Felipe González Morales told a press conference on 28 July, BelTA has learned.

As BelTA reported, Poland used water canons in the second half of 2021 when the migrant crisis escalated on the Belarusian-Polish border. Then the Polish military used special means, including water cannons, not only against migrants but also directly towards the territory of Belarus. As a result, many were injured, including several journalists.

"As for the use of water cannons and special means at the border, border guards should be very careful about the means they use against migrants and asylum seekers. Water cannon is a tool that, I would say, is absolutely excessive and disproportionate to solve the situation they faced,” Felipe González Morales noted.

He stated that such problems must be addressed with full respect for human rights.

The special rapporteur also drew attention to the cases of the death of migrants. "About 20 people lost their lives. This is the information that we have. There are a large number of examples where people's physical or mental health has been affected. This happened when people were kept in enclosed spaces with those migrants who were trapped between the two countries. This especially applies to the migrants who were victims of pushbacks," Felipe González Morales said.

“Every death of migrants requires an independent transparent investigation," the international official stressed.

He also drew attention to the restricted access of the media and representatives of civil society organizations to the border area for independent monitoring. It is also important not to call to account the civil society organizations that provide humanitarian assistance to migrants and asylum seekers.

As for the actions of Belarus in the situation with migrants, Felipe Gonzalez Morales mentioned that the country provided a logistics center for their temporary accommodation, which actually became a home for migrants for some time. People could keep warm, were provided with food and drink. The relevant work was carried out in cooperation with Belarus Red Cross and other organizations. Necessary support was provided. The special rapporteur noted that none of the UN agencies was involved in the development of the practices of the center, although such agencies have extensive experience in providing support to migrants or asylum seekers.

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