Communicated cases against Poland: A.I. and others v Poland (application no. 39028/17), T.Z. and M.M. and Others v Poland (application no. 41764/17) and A.B. and Others v Poland (application no. 42907/17)

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

On 1 March 2021, the cases A.I. and others v Poland (application no. 39028/17), T.Z. and M.M. and Others v Poland (application no. 41764/17)  and A.B. and Others v Poland (application no. 42907/17) were communicated by the ECtHR. 
In each case, the applicants who were all Russian nationals from Chechnya, travelled to the Polish-Belarusian border crossing at Terespol on numerous occasions where they expressed fears for their safety and a wish to lodge an application for protection each time. They told border guards that they could not remain in Belarus and that it would be impossible for them to obtain international protection there. On each occasion on which the applicants presented themselves at the border crossing at Terespol, administrative decisions were issued and they were summarily turned away from the Polish border on the grounds that they did not have the necessary documents authorising their entry into Poland and that they were not at risk of persecution in their home country.
In each case, on various dates the ECtHR decided to apply interim measures and indicated to the Polish Government that the applicants should not be removed to Belarus. Despite this, the applicants were returned to Belarus on these occasions. In A.I. and others v Poland (application no. 39028/17) and T.Z. and M.M. and Others v Poland (application no. 41764/17), the applicants returned to the border crossing and were later allowed to enter Poland. They subsequently lodged applications for international protection. The ECtHR deemed that they were no longer at risk of expulsion and lifted the interim measure. In A.B. and Others v Poland (application no. 42907/17) the applicants were not admitted to Poland and subsequently left the area of Polish border and returned to Russia.
The applicants complain under Article 3 ECHR of their return to Belarus despite the asylum procedure being inadequate and would not provide sufficient protection for asylum seekers which consequently put them at risk of chain-refoulement to Russia. They further complain under Article 4 Protocol No. 4 ECHR that the Border Guards did not consider their individual situation before returning them to Belarus. Moreover, it is submitted that the applicants were deprived of an effective remedy under Article 13 in conjunction with Article 3 and Article 4 Protocol. No. 4 ECHR as they had no access to an appeal with suspensive effect. In A.B. and Others v Poland, the applicants complain under Article 34 ECHR that the Polish authorities did not comply with a Rule 39 interim measure.

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Effective access to procedures
Indirect refoulement
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment