In the Czech city of Brno, an annual V4 meeting was held of ombudspersons from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. In the adopted declaration "Human Rights for Everyone", the Visegrad Group ombudspersons emphasized their common goals and values, as well as the significance of the institution of ombudsman maintaining independence of the authorities. Thanks to such independence, the ombudspersons may support ordinary people in their conflicts with the state.
A 95-year-old Warsaw uprising insurgent wrote to the Commissioner for Human Rights in fear of losing his social benefits as a result of the Act on retirement benefits for persons serving in the state uniformed services and intelligence services under the former political system. The person had once worked for the former Ministry of Internal Affairs. After the matter was made public, the Ministry of Interior and Administration verified his documents and stated he was not covered by the Act’s provisions.
The situation with the Supreme Court is a bit as if here, at the Przystanek Woodstock, Jurek Owsiak tried to determine what should be happening at the festival, said Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar while speaking with judge Jarosław Gwizdak during the “Academy of Truly Fine Arts” at the 23rd edition of the Przystanek Woodstock festival held in Kostrzyń nad Odrą. The conversation concerned, among others, the judicial system reform and citizens’ communication with the justice system.
„I believe that the recently generated great energy of the citizens may also be used to control staffing decisions in the judiciary sector at every level: the appointments of judges, court presidents, heads of court departments, spokespersons, etc. What should be ensured is the transparency of procedures, assessment of qualifications of candidates, explanations of unclear decision. Non-governmental organizations know how to do it, they have experience. It is important to combine this experience with the energy generated by the protests.
Adam Bodnar was present throughout the parliamentary sessions devoted to the work on the bills on courts. He tried to explain the objections and indicated the threats to the rights of ordinary people, caused by the reform which was proceeded hastily, without consultations, and which covered three bills: on Common Courts, on the National Council of the Judiciary and on the Supreme Court.
Sebastian Kaleta, former press spokesman for the Ministry of Justice and currently a member of the Verification Commission for Property Restitution, posted the formulation on Twitter that the Constitution permits “plowing up” of the courts. These words have inspired me to explain to citizens what this “plowing up” will consist of.
The Government Plenipotentiary for Civil Society, appointed in 2016, was expected to draw up a National Programme for Civil Society Development Support, to provide a basis for further works, including institutional solutions. However, the Programme was not drawn up, and the government submitted a proposal of establishing a new institution, the National Freedom Institute.
The 8th Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing took place on 5-7 July in UN Headquaters in New York City. That was the first time when National Human Rights Institution were granted the right to speak during UN meetings. Anna Chabiera from the Office of the Commissioner of Human Rights spoke on results of research focused on direct and indirect discrimination on the ground of age taking place in Poland.
The system of free legal aid, introduced in early 2016, already requires changes. It turned out that in practice, the aid was used only by a low number of people. Often, persons in need of such aid were not eligible for it as they did not meet the criteria set out in the relevant Act of Parliament. The Commissioner heard about the problem in his meetings across the country, and has thus written to the President of Poland with regard to the matter.
Contrary to what one might expect, the adoption of the three Acts of Parliament relating to the judicial system: the Act on the National Council of the Judiciary, the Act on the System of Common Courts and the most recent Act on the Supreme Court does not serve the purpose of comprehen