The Congress, organized by the Commissioner for Human Rights to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the institution of independent ombudsman in Poland, was held on 8-9 December in Warsaw. It consisted of 36 panels on key topics relating to human rights.
The Parliamentary Committee on Justice issued a negative opinion on the CHR’s draft budget for 2018. The ruling coalition MPs attacked the CHR for being focused “on pathological groups" . On the following day, the Parliamentary Committee on Petitions refused to issue its opinion on the petition to dismiss the CHR due to his reply to a TVP reporter’s question as to whether the Holocaust was a solely German crime.
The Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that the regulations which allow so-called eviction to the street of persons living in uniformed service members’ apartments are inconsistent with the Constitution. The ruling is the CHR’s major success in the fight for strengthening the protection of the rights of tenants.
Societies and states, granting themselves the right to sentence people to death, undermine the foundation of human rights: the inalienable dignity of the individual. The consequence of this inevitable dignity is the unconditional right to exist, pointed out Halina Bortnowska, President of the Council of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the initiator of the Polish celebrations of the World Day Against the Death Penalty. On the occasion of the Day, in the CHR Office a conference was held with the participation of scientists and representatives of non-governmental organizations.
I have the honour to present the report on the activity of the Commissioner for Human Rights and on the status of the observance of human and civil rights and freedoms in 2016.
The report is a long document; it has nearly one thousand pages. It covers, however, over 50 thousand cases of people who turned to the Commissioner in the belief that the state and public institutions violated their rights.
The task of the Commissioner is to check, to answer and to help people.
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.