Lower house passes new border laws

Marcin Obara/PAP

Poland's Sejm (lower house) on Wednesday passed amendments to Poland's border laws in response to the on-going migrant crisis on its border with Belarus.

The new laws are needed to enable the continued closure of the crisis-affected border area after the expiry of a state of emergency imposed there on September 2. Under Poland's constitution, a state of emergency can only be prolonged once, and that option has already been used up.

The new laws also extend the competencies of the border guard and military in managing the crisis. Among others, the new regulations enable the imposition of temporary entry bans to the crisis zone and empower the border guard to use disabling agents in clashes with migrants.

Thousands of mostly Middle-Eastern migrants are camped on the Belarusian side of the Polish-Belarusian border with intentions of forcing their way into Poland.

In recent days the migrants, which Warsaw says are being encouraged to attempt entry into Poland by the government of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in retaliation for EU sanctions on Belarus, have repeatedly attempted to break through the strongly-fenced border in larger groups, leading to clashes with Polish border guards, the military and police.