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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Senate passes bill allowing reporters on border

27.11.2021 09:30
Polish senators have greenlighted a draft that would allow media and NGO’s helping migrants to enter border areas amid a crisis.
Senators vote a border protection bill with amendments, Warsaw, November 26.
Senators vote a border protection bill with amendments, Warsaw, November 26.Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak

The vote in the 100-seat Senate, the upper house of parliament, was passed on Friday with 49 senators in favour, 42 against and 7 abstentions.

Since September 2 Poland has kept the border zone under a state of emergency amid continuing migrant pressure from Belarus. Warsaw, as well as the European Union, NATO and the United States, have accused Belarus strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating the standoff in retaliation for Western sanctions against his regime.

New border legislation has been a pressing issue as under the Polish constitution, such state of emergency measures can only last three months at the longest and thus are to expire next week.

The draft law, which still needs to be passed by the lower chamber, or the Sejm, and signed off by the president, allows the authorities to deny access to some parts of the frontier depending on the situation. This has been the case of Polish media outlets since the imposition of the state of emergency in the border area, despite national and international criticism.

However, according to an amendment approved by senators, the ban would not apply to media and aid groups. Other than that, any infringement of the ban would be punishable by a fine rather than detention.

The Sejm is set to vote the amended bill next week.

Since the start of the year, there have been over 37,000 attempts at illegal crossing from Belarus, including more than 8,000 in November alone, Poland’s border agency's data showed.

(mo)

Source: PAP