- It is not just about populism as a political method, but about the use of populism to destroy constitutional courts. In such circumstances, the ombudsman must be a guardian of values such as human rights. It must be reliable in terms of legal solutions but also creative in terms of communication methods, said Adam Bodnar, the Commissioner for Human Rights at the workshop for ombudspersons organized on April 3-4 in Barcelona.
The workshop - co-organized, among others, by the Ombudsman of Catalonia and the International Ombudsman Institute - concerned populism - one of the challenges for the protection of human rights today as well as the role of ombudspersons in preserving democratic and human rights standards.
During the session devoted to legislative solutions, public policy and the human rights crisis, the Commissioner for Human Rights spoke about the need to maintain a relative balance between the authorities and the individual. He noted, among others, excessive use of rhetoric by some politicians based on fear, accusations and hatred. What is meant to enhance the security of citizens is used to extend the powers of the authorities and, for example, to justify anti-immigration policies. Adam Bodnar also spoke about the practical limitation of the independence of the Polish Constitutional Court. In this situation the Polish courts will often have to take over the role of the direct guardian of the Constitution.
Adam Bodnar emphasized that the CHR is not a politician and has a limited impact on social processes or state policies. But he can support the weakest groups, influence the public debate, provide arguments to other participants in social life who want to fight populism. He may also support NGOs, expert groups and independent media.
Since the beginning of his term, the Polish CHR has been meeting people in different places and regions of our country. He organized special conferences and seminars at the local level.
Adam Bodnar also talked about issues related to the use of social media and the use of a simple language to communicate with the people.
In summary, the ombudsman recalled the most important data on the Polish Ombudsman's activities: in 2016, there were 420 general interventions with authorities indicating the problems to be resolved, 65 court proceedings, to which the CHR had joined, 70 cassations, 50 applications pending by the Constitutional Tribunal.