The government on Tuesday approved a bill by the Ministry of the Interior to amend the State Borders Act and associated acts to allow the state to better contain mass immigration in an emergency if foreigners cross the Estonian border illegally and submit unfounded applications for international protection, the Government Office communicated.
"The amendment of the State Borders Act is necessary so that the police can continue to do their work in situations where foreigners are used as a weapon in organizing a hybrid attack, as we saw on the borders of Belarus and the European Union," said Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani (Center). "Each state has the sovereign right to control the entry, stay and exit of all persons who are not nationals of that state. We are also ready to fulfil our international obligations, including the obligation to provide international protection to those aliens who need it," the Minister of the Interior noted.
In accordance with the amendment, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) may refuse to accept an application for international protection of an alien who has entered the country illegally in an emergency and make them return without issuing a precept to leave or a decision to refuse entry. Persons can enter Estonia from the external border only through an open border crossing point.
The amendment also gives the PPA the right to determine the places where aliens can submit applications for international protection.
In accordance with the draft legislation, the involvement of the Defense Forces and the Defense League in the protection of public and constitutional order will also be made more flexible if the resources of the Police and Border Guard Board prove to be insufficient. At present, the Defense Forces or the Defense League can be involved for a maximum of 30 days, but this does not correspond to the changed security situation, where the need for involvement may be longer.
Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland have been under artificial migratory pressure since the summer of 2021. In 2021, 8,267 third-country nationals entered the territory of Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland illegally from Belarus, of which 4,226 entered Lithuania, 446 Latvia, and 3,495 Poland.
The bill will be forwarded to the Riigikogu for deliberations.
Editor: Marcus Turovski