The statement was made during an Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants. It was delivered by Humanists International’s Director of Advocacy, Elizabeth O’Casey.
“The almost complete ban on abortion is a serious human rights violation for all women in Poland, but poses acute problems for the refugee population fleeing war. In terms of Ukraine specifically, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry has documented patterns of rape against women and girls there, with the most horrific accounts.”
International human rights law requires States prevent unsafe abortion as a core obligation of realising the right to sexual and reproductive health
O’Casey also pointed out that,
“In addition to the very restrictive access to legal abortion […] there are a range of pre-existing legal and policy restrictions which are more generally impeding access to urgent and essential sexual and reproductive health care for the refugee population in Poland. For certain groups of refugees, including Romani and African women, the risk of sexual and reproductive health and rights violations can be exacerbated by racism and other forms of discrimination.”
The statement finished by urging Poland to abide by its obligations under international law and ensure safe and legal abortion.
In his report (A/HRC/53/26/Add.1), the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants expressed his concern about “the very restricted access to legal abortion for refugee victims of rape in the current context of an ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, making it virtually non-existent in practice.” He noted that he had “exchanged views with relevant authorities and members of the Parliament in this regard.”