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A burning question has been rising among the international community for the past few months about the existence of the rights of the migrants in the Belarus-Poland border. It is quite wondering whether this situation can invoke controversies and debates relating to the violations of human rights provisions of migrants.  Migrants’ problem is not at all a new problem; however, the Belarus-Poland migrants crisis got very special international attention due to its controversial nature. In the middle of last year, people from the Middle East countries including Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan were started to go to the European Union (EU) via Belarus where thousands of them were physically trapped between the borders of Belarus and Poland due to the political problem between Belarus and EU.[1]

Many of them were stuck in a freezing forest in Belarus[2] without adequate food, water, and medical care.[3] They were pushed back to Belarus by the Polish border guard committee creates a question that whether it is a violation of article 3 and article 4 of Protocol 4 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) 1950 by Poland or not. Poland’s human rights are regulated under ECHR as it is a regional convention that regulates human rights in Europe.

Human Rights Convention

Human rights are inherent rights in nature which is applicable for all mankind irrespective of their race, nationality, language, ethnic origin, sex, or any other grounds.[4] It is granted by states because it is applicable for people just because they have been born as human beings.[5] As all human beings are getting human rights by born, migrants are also included in that. However, the human rights of migrant people have been violated now and then. To protect the human rights of people so many international instruments have been adopted for example Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 1948, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1976, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), 1966. These three are together known as the International Bill of Human Rights.[6] So many regional instruments also have been adopted like the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), 1950, Arab Charter of Human Rights, 2004, American Convention on Human Rights, 1969, and so on.

Violation of Human Rights in Belarus-Poland Border Crisis

Article 3 of the ECHR denotes that nobody shall be subjected to any inhuman or degrading treatment or any torture. This provision is only applicable within the jurisdiction of any member states that are mentioned in article 1 of the ECHR. However, ECHR is also applicable outside the territory of the state party which simply means it is applicable for the people stuck on the border of Poland. In Hirsi Jamaa v. Italy case, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that ECHR is applicable extraterritorially under some specific circumstances hence, ECtHR recognized the violation of the African migrants’ human rights.[7] Despite the decision on extraterritorial jurisdiction, the ECtHR gave an exceptional decision on the mirror situation in the M.K and Others v. Poland case the persons who were asking for international protection in the border of Poland, had been considered to be in the jurisdiction of Poland’s territory.[8] It also violates a very famous principle called the principle of non-refoulment which means to force any migrant to return to the place where their life and security are at risk or will face cruel, degrading, or inhuman treatment under the human rights law. It is applicable for all migrants regardless of their migration status. The principle has been violated under Article 3 of ECHR as article 3 also talks about the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment. As migrants were struggling to survive without any kinds of medical care, shelter, food, water near the Belarus border itself inhuman treatment amounts to a violation of article 3.

The gist of Article 4 of Protocol 4 of the ECHR is collective expulsion of any group of aliens is prohibited. In M.K. and Others v Poland case, the court decided in favour of the migrants that expelling the migrants from Poland’s border without examining their application is also considered collective expulsion. However, the expulsion of a group of aliens asking for asylum or international protection happened at Poland’s border by refusing their claims. The expulsion of migrants to Belarus where their life became miserable is also considered inhuman or degrading treatment. Also, they were expelled without examining their claims and did not get a chance to put forward their claims, which amounts to a violation of another right under article 13 of ECHR as article 13 sets out that everyone is entitled to get effective remedy if their rights have been violated.[9]


It is clear from the previous discussion; the migrant has faced so many challenges in the Belarus-Poland border. Their human rights that have been protected by ECHR were violated by Poland. Hence, the migrant crisis in the Poland-Belarus border is the infringement of the right to the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to the prohibition of collective expulsion, and the right to an effective remedy in respect of human rights.

Author(s) Name: Anamika Modok (East West University, Dhaka, Bangladesh)


[1] Misha Ketchell, ‘ Trouble on the Belarus-Poland Border: What You Need to Know About the Migrant Crisis Manufactured by Belarus’ Leader,’ The Conversation, November 19, 2021, <> accessed January 28, 2022

[2] Richard Perez-Pena, ‘A Border Crisis,’ The New York Times, November 17, 2021, <> accessed January 28, 2022

[3] Madelina Roache, ‘In the Standoff between Belarus and Europe, Migrants are being Used as Human Weapons,’ Time, November 17, 2021, <> accessed February 20, 2022

[4] ‘What are Human Rights,’ United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, <>, accessed January 30, 2022

[5] Ibid

[6] International Bill of Human Rights, ESCR-Net, <> accessed February 20, 2022

[7] Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy, App No. 27765/09 (ECHR, 23rd February, 2012) <> accessed February 20, 2022

[8] M.K. and Others v Poland, App No. 40503/17, 43643/17, ECHR, July 23, 2020

[9] Article 13 of the European Convention of Human Rights, 1950.