The Judiciary Power of Discretion in Sanctioning the Facilitation of Unauthorised Stay in Poland
Migration control in Poland is significantly based on internal control practices carried out by street-level bureaucrats representing both law enforcement agents and low-level judges equipped with discretionary power. Based on empirical data from 243 criminal cases of facilitating unauthorised stay in Poland, we reflected on how the mentioned actors and, in particular, criminal judges interpret the existing provisions and to what extent they study cases independently or simply follow the logic of the law enforcement. We based our analysis on two distinct forms of identified cases of ‘supporting’ irregular migration; that is, participation in sham marriages and involvement in document fraud. We conclude that judges lacking expertise in the field relatively new to them may be less prone to question the effects of the preparatory proceedings, and they are not keen to look for any answers for themselves, especially to scrutinise and refer to the European Union law or jurisprudence. In their ‘craftwork’, they face cases that seem similar to them and, thus, not deserving of special attention. Judges lack the broader knowledge and possibly also reflexive thinking in assessing migration-related criminal cases brought to the courts by border guards, who prove their effectiveness inter alia through numbers of detected facilitators, not necessarily the roles played by them. All this may lead to unnecessarily broadening the scope of control over immigrants and a failure in achieving the objectives of criminal provisions.
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