View Adopted: 2022.07.21
The authors of the communication are A.B. and P.D., both of them Russian nationals. They are also acting on behalf of their two minor children. A.B.’s brother, who worked with a security firm in Chechnya, disappeared in 2010. In 2013, men in camouflaged uniforms apprehended A.B. and tortured him. They asked him about his cousin, whom they said was involved in a terrorist organisation. In 2016, A.B. was again kidnapped and tortured by men in camouflaged uniforms. They also raped P.D. In January 2017, the authors left Russia and travelled to Belarus. They attempted multiple times to apply for asylum at the Polish border. However, they claim that the border guards never acknowledged their applications and did not allow them to enter Poland. The authors allege that, since they were returned to Belarus without any assessment of their applications and were forced to live there in precarious conditions, the State party violated article 7 (prohibition of torture), read alone and in conjunction with article 2(3) (right to effective remedy). They further allege a violation of article 13 (expulsion of aliens), read alone and in conjunction with article 2(3), as the authors did not have the possibility to challenge their expulsion.
The Committee notes that no effective domestic remedies were available to the authors. It also observes that the authors have sufficiently substantiated their claims and have victim status. Therefore, the communication is admissible.
The Committee recalls the State parties’ duty of non-refoulement where there are substantial grounds for believing that the concerned individuals would be exposed to a real risk of irreparable harm either in the country to which removal is to be affected or in any country to which they may subsequently be removed. Since the Polish authorities did not assess the merits of the authors’ asylum applications, the State party violated article 7, alone and in conjunction with article 2(3). Moreover, Poland also violated article 13, alone and in conjunction with article 2(3), as it did not allow the authors to challenge the arbitrary denial of their status as asylum-seekers.
The Committee is of the view that in the present case its Views on the merits of the claims constitute sufficient remedy for the violations found. The State party is also under an obligation to take steps to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future. In this connection, and in accordance with its obligation under article 2 (2) of the Covenant, the State party should carry out a comprehensive review of all relevant policies, procedures and legislation in order to identify and effectively remedy any gaps in the implementation of the State party’s obligations under the Covenant.
Deadline: 21 January 2023
More info on the case:
United Nations Human Rights - Press briefing notes on Poland/Belarus border
Human Rights Watch - Violence and Pushbacks at Poland-Belarus Border
By: Giacomo Bruno