Representatives of the Ombudsman’s Office visit the Latvian-Belorussian state border
Taken into account media reports regarding the situation on the Latvian-Belarusian border, as well as information previously provided by non-governmental organizations about on the several groups of foreigners, including vulnerable people, being for a longer period situated on the state border in a helpless situation, representatives of the Ombudsman’s Office on 2 September 2021 visited Daugavpils Administration of the State Border Guard.
During the visit, the representatives of the Ombudsman’s Office met and discussed topical issues with the head of the Daugavpils administration, as well as border guards of separate structural units – border guard divisions and border control points – who guard the state border and whose tasks are to prevent illegal entry. Representatives of the office also visited certain sections of the state border and landmarks with Belarus to get acquainted with and assess the situation on the spot.
Although state border guards have a duty to prevent people from entering the country illegally, in situations where a person has already crossed the border, state border guards are aware of their duty to assess whether the migrant needs support such as clothing, food or emergency medical care. The State Border Guard pointed to several cases where such assistance was provided.
The Ombudsman has previously pointed out that during an emergency situation, the individual situation must be assessed, paying special attention to cases when an unaccompanied minor or a representative of another vulnerable group has entered the country.
On 10 August 2021, the Cabinet of Ministers issued an order declaring emergency situation in certain administrative territories, taking into account the rapid increase in the number of cases of illegal crossing of the Latvian-Belarusian border. The emergency situation has been declared from 11 August 2021 to 10 November 2021 in Ludza, Krāslava and Augšdaugava districts, as well as in Daugavpils. Since August 2021, several groups of foreigners have been identified on the Latvian border with Belarus, who are refused entry from Belarus by the State Border Guard due to the declared emergency in the region, while Belarusian border guards prevent them from returning to Belarus as a country of initial entry.