53rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council (19 June 2023 to 14 July 2023)
Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants
We thank the Special Rapporteur for his important reports. In his report on his visit to Poland he highlighted his concern about the very restricted access to legal abortion for refugee victims of rape in the context of the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine.1
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.2
We remind Poland that international human rights law requires States to prevent unsafe abortion as a core obligation of realising the right to sexual and reproductive health.3
In addition to the very restrictive access to legal abortion observed by the Rapporteur, 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.4
Further, as noted by the Special Rapporteur in his report on regularization mechanisms “migrant women without a regular migration status are often denied access to health care” and “gender-based discrimination against them is compounded by further discrimination based not only on their migration status but on ethnicity, race, class or caste identity.” 5
Accordingly, we commend the Rapporteur’s recommendations around this issue and call on all states, including Poland, to implement them.
1 A/HRC/53/26/Add.1, para 38.
3 General Comment No. 22: The right to sexual and reproductive health (Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights). Geneva: United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; 2016 (E/C/12/GC/22), para 49;General Comment No. 4: Adolescent health and development in the context of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Geneva: United Nations Committee on the Rights of Child; 2003 (CRC/GC/2003/4),paras 6, 9, 24, 30-33.
5 A/HRC/53/26, para 37
'Reproductive rights of migrants in Poland', Humanists International