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Criminalisation of solidarity. Whether activists who help forced migrants in the borderland can be penalised for their actions?

Klaus Witold

Since early August 2021, when the humanitarian crisis began to unfold on the Polish-Belarusian border, the key actors who provide real help to migrants in borderland forests are activists and local residents. The role of the latter cannot be overestimated, especially when they live and act in a state of emergency zone to which no one else has access. This assistance has been met with both great appreciation from one – large – part of society and with condemnation from another. Some of those who condemn it include public officials (both members of the Border Guard and other law enforcement agencies) who threaten activists rescuing people in border area with criminal prosecution. The two legal provisions that they most often refer to are: assistance in facilitating illegal stay in Poland (Art. 264a § 1 of the Polish Criminal Code – hereafter PCC) and assistance in organising illegal border crossings (Art. 264a § 2 PCC). In this analysis, I would like to discuss these regulations from the point of view of whether they permit punishment for granting humanitarian aid.

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  • Z. Ćwiąkalski In: W. Wróbel, A. Zoll (eds.) (2017). Kodeks karny. Część szczególna. Vol. II. Part II. Komentarz [Criminal Code: Special Part. Volume II. Part II. Commentary]. Warsaw: Wolters Kluwer, LEX.

  • A. Lach In: V. Konarska-Wrzosek (ed.) (2020). Kodeks karny. Komentarz [Criminal Code: Commentary]. Warsaw: Wolters Kluwer.

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