Newsletter 31 May – 5 June 2016
CIVIL RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES, JUSTICE SYSTEM
Adam Bodnar at the general assembly of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary
- Independence of the judiciary is one of the most important values. When it is threatened we should stand in its defence - said Adam Bodnar at the opening of the plenary session of the General Assembly of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ), which was held in Warsaw. The event was attended by representatives of councils for the judiciary from 30 European countries as well as representatives of EU institutions, universities and legal organizations from all over Europe, including the President of the Court of Justice of the EU professor Koen Lenaerts [more].
The Constitutional Week has ended
Between May 28 and June 4, lawyers met with students of middle schools and high schools all over Poland as part of the Constitutional Week #MojaKonstytucja. On 30 May, the Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar conducted a lesson in one of the high schools in Kielce. The Constitutional Week was organised by the Professor Zbigniew Hołda Association . Lesson plans have been prepared by experts under the guidance of Professor Ewa Łętowska, and the whole event was held under the patronage of the Commissioner for Human Rights. The aim of the project was to draw students' attention to the practical aspects of the Constitution [more].
The process of submitting petitions by citizens
The draft act on trust services, electronic identification and the amendment of certain laws, prepared by the Ministry of Development, may make it difficult for citizens to exercise their right to petition. According to the draft, petitions submitted by means of electronic communication should be accompanied by a qualified electronic signature or electronic signature confirmed by the ePUAP trusted profile. The Commissioner for Human Rights asked the Minister of Development to explain the emerging doubts [more].
The possibility of reopening criminal proceedings
There are doubts concerning the possibility of reopening criminal proceedings if the European Court of Human Rights finds a violation of Convention rights in an identical factual and legal situation. The Commissioner for Human Rights asked the Minister of Justice for a clarification pertaining to the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure in this regard [more].
Lack of control over refusals to transfer a judge to another place of employment– an application to the Constitutional Tribunal
The Commissioner for Human Rights applied to the Constitutional Tribunal to allow judges to appeal against the decision of the Minister of Justice refusing the transfer to another place of employment. Granting judges the right to launch court proceedings does not guarantee that any such request will be accepted. This means, however, that an independent, impartial body, which the court is, will assess the correctness of the decision taken by the Minister of Justice [more].
Preventive examinations of drivers for alcohol content in the body
The Commissioner for Human Rights approached the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration for the urgent regulation of the issue of conducting and documenting preventive medical examinations of drivers for alcohol content in the body by the police, carried out under the Act on road traffic. The new provisions should take into account both the rights of persons being examined, as well as the need to ensure road safety [more].
Periods of child care and the amount of pension - the position of the Commissioner for Human Rights in the proceedings before the Constitutional Tribunal
Persons whose pension was calculated on the basis of "old" rules (persons born before 1 January 1949), and who benefited from parental leave, cannot take advantage of the possibility to convert their pensions and increase the amount of benefits after the amendments introduced in May 2015. The Commissioner for Human Rights entered in the proceedings before the Constitutional Tribunal, which concerns the issue (P 2/16). It was initiated by a legal question submitted by the District Court in Szczecin [more].
Surveillance in the years 2007-2015? It’s top secret, Mr. Commissioner
The Commissioner for Human Rights will not receive additional information concerning the surveillance of various social groups in the years 2007-2015, since they are top secret – as informed by the Coordinator of Special Services in his letter that the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights received on May 30 [more].
Profiling support for the unemployed
The Commissioner for Human Rights approached the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy about whether any amendments are planned to the Act on employment promotion and labour market institutions regarding profiling support for the unemployed, and if so, to what extent. Doubts regarding the continued operation of the support profiling system in its present form have been reported, in addition to the Commissioner for Human Rights, by the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection and the Panoptykon Foundation [more].
Electronic support for citizens’ legislative initiative
The Commissioner for Human Rights approached the Prime Minister for the introduction of new legal solutions that will allow persons supporting a given bill initiated by citizens to place e-signatures. The use of modern technology can contribute - according to Commissioner for Human Rights - to increasing the participation of citizens in public life [more].
The case of Mr. Radosław - is such a penalty a good solution in proceedings regarding maintenance?
The Commissioner for Human Rights filed a cassation against the conviction of Mr. Radoslaw, who did not pay child support. The Commissioner for Human Rights notes that the court which handed down the conviction, failed to repair the injustice, which is the failure to pay child support. And this might have led to a further violation of the sense of justice[more].
Students of art schools cannot repeat the second class after the withdrawal of the reform concerning six-year-olds
Due to the abolition of compulsory education for six-year olds, children born in the first half of 2008, studying in the second year of primary school during the school year 2015/2016, can continue their education in the same class during the next school year. The Commissioner receives complaints from parents about the lack of such opportunities for students of art schools. This situation raises serious doubts from the point of view of observance of the right to education and the principle of equality under the Constitution. Therefore, the Commissioner referred this issue to the Minister of Culture and National Heritage [more].
Supreme Medical Council responds on the matter of physicians’ conscience clause
Medical doctors have a duty to inform their superiors that they have declined to provide a patient with medical services because of the conscience clause. Therefore, such information will be gathered, which will implement the request of the Commissioner for Human Rights, to check how the conscience clause works in practice and what actual problems arise from the fact that, currently, no one has the obligation to treat the patient when a doctor refuses to help them [more].
Voting rights of the homeless
The Commissioner, after the elections in the years 2014-2015, carefully analysed citizens' complaints about the difficulties they met when registering at the electoral register and rolling register. The group of voters, who could face serious barriers in this area, are the homeless. The National Electoral Commission agreed with the opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights and approached the Minister of the Interior and Administration on 23 May 2016 to amend the ordinance in this area [more].
Standardisation of services for the homeless - there will be consultations
The planned standardisation of services for the homeless raises concerns among some social organisations. New requirements may lead to restricting their activities. The adaptation of existing facilities to new standards may – in fact – result in the need to undertake costly and time-consuming measures. In response to the call of the Commissioner for Human Rights’ Committee of Experts on Prevention of Homelessness, the Minister for Family, Labour and Social Policy announced a consultation concerning the draft regulation on this matter [more].
Concerning the "apprehension” of the Syrian in Zgorzelec
While investigating the “apprehension” of the citizen of Syria in Zgorzelec, which took place in February this year, the Ministry of the Interior and Administration has determined that it was committed by persons who worked as security guards in a company, which did not have a license. Therefore, the Ministry of the Interior shall initiate proceedings to revoke the license of the security company that committed this act [more].
Driving tests for people with disabilities before Constitutional Tribunal
On 8 June 2016, at a closed session, The Constitutional will recognize the request of the Commissioner for Human Rights dated 14 August 2013 pertaining to driving exams for people with disabilities. The case concerns the unconstitutionality of the provisions, which impose the requirement to provide a vehicle adapted to the type of illness for the purposes of the practical part of the state examination for category B driving license on people with disabilities [more].
RIGHTS OF THE ELDERLY
Private nursing homes: the government is thinking about changing the regulations
The problem of improprieties in some nursing homes is noticed, therefore an amendment seems to be imperative - the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy wrote to the Commissioner for Human Rights. - Specific solutions will be presented after the most important issues to be regulated have been identified [more].
The Golden Book of Best Practices - we are waiting for proposals until June 30.
We are waiting for proposals for best practices in the second edition of the Golden Book of Best Practices for Social Participation of Elderly Persons Contest until June 30. Last year, 24 particularly valuable initiatives submitted by social organizations and local governments were awarded with an entry in the Golden Book. You can read about the winning projects, among others, on the website of the Commissioner for Human Rights [more].
The effect of regional meeting in Bialystok – cassation filed by the Commissioner for Human Rights
In 1992 Mr. Tomasz, who was 3.5 years old at that time, was hit by a car. Because of the sustained injuries, he became a disabled person requiring constant care. The vehicle of the offender had no third party liability insurance. The victim was receiving pension from the Insurance Guarantee Fund. Today, however, guaranteed sums set out in the agreements concluded in the 90's ran out and Mr. Tomasz was left without protection and means necessary for further treatment and existence. The Commissioner for Human Rights filed a cassation in this case [more].
A meeting with the representatives of the National Federation of Polish NGOs
On May 31, the Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar met with representatives of non-governmental organisations affiliated within the National Federation of Polish NGOs (Ogólnopolska Federacja Organizacji Pozarządowych, OFOP). The meeting was mainly devoted to the discussion of operating standards of social organisations and the challenges they are facing today. Representatives reported the problems they encounter in their work [more].
THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS DEPRIVED OF LIBERTY
The situation in juvenile detention centres and shelters
This report shows a very important issue - that is, how to deal with human rights in Poland. It shows that change cannot be made by some "magic spells", but it requires a very careful and thorough response to emerging irregularities, but it also presents incorrect practices that do not comply with international standards. These standards are not constituted for their own sake, they exist to protect human dignity - said the Commissioner for Human Rights during the presentation of the report on the visit in juvenile detention centres and shelters [more, including the full report].
3 m2 per prisoner?
The Commissioner approached the Minister of Justice to amend the legislation so that a minimum of 4 m2 of cell space is provided per person deprived of liberty. The standard of 3 m2 existing in Poland does not meet the requirements, which Poland has undertaken to comply with. – People in Poland cannot be treated like this. Even those who have made mistakes and serve prison sentences adjudged on behalf of the Republic of Poland. These people will be released after serving their sentences, therefore the conditions under which the penalty is served, has an impact on their future relations with fellow citizens - wrote the Commissioner for Human Rights in his presentation [more].
Visit to the Youth Care Centre in Kolonia Szczerbacka
On 30-31 May 2016, the representatives of the National Preventive Mechanism carried out a visit to the Youth Care Centre in Kolonia Szczerbacka. In the assessment of the visitors, the facility provides children with very good conditions not only in terms of living, but above all a good atmosphere. However, there are concerns related to, among others, the existing restrictions (e.g. children are allowed to make phone calls only in the presence of childcare workers) [more].
Persons deprived of liberty with hepatitis C infections
Prison Service shares the Commissioner's concern about the condition of health of persons deprived of their liberty and fully accepts the proposals to improve the epidemiological situation for hepatitis C among persons in penitentiary institutions - wrote Deputy Director General of the Prison Service, Col. Jerzy Kopeć in response to the Commissioner's presentation [more].
OTHER ACTIVITIES OF THE COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Zoom on the World International Warsaw Meeting with dr. Sylvia Spurek
How does the development of social aspirations influence the empowerment of citizens? What new challenges for the rights of individuals are imposed by the current crises? What problems have the subsequent Commissioners for Human Rights faced? How did the membership in the EU affect the relations between the citizen and the state?
These and other issues were the subject of debate "Civil rights - what is their value in today's Central Europe?" The Deputy Commissioner for Human Rights dr. Sylwia Spurek and the first term Commissioner for Human Rights prof. Ewa Łętowska participated in the discussion [more].
Renewable energy sources in allotment gardens
Allotment gardeners indicate in complaints to the Commissioner that gardening associations cannot apply for funding for the purchase and installation of renewable energy sources, despite the fact that one of the fundamental objectives of allotment gardens is to protect the environment, and to improve ecological conditions in the municipalities. The Commissioner approached the President of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management with this problem [more].
Visit of the delegation of the Conference of NGOs of the Council of Europe in the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights
The Commissioner for Human Rights dr. Adam Bodnar met with representatives of the Conference of NGOs of the Council of Europe. The main topics of conversation concerned the situation of NGOs in Poland, the mechanisms of public consultation and participation of the third sector in the preparation of new regulations [more].
Hanna Suchocka meets with Marek Lisiński from the "Be not be afraid" Foundation
A meeting between Hanna Suchocka, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, that aims to fight against paedophilia in the Catholic Church, with Marek Lisiński from the "Be not be afraid" Foundation was held in Poznań. A representative of the Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar also attended the meeting [more].
Krzysztof Olkowicz at the opening of the Citizens' Advice Bureau in Koszalin
- We have a problem with applying the law. In-depth legal knowledge and experience is necessary not to make mistakes and navigate through a maze of regulations. Citizens are lost in the regulations and they often cannot afford professional legal assistance, that is why this initiative is so valuable - said the Deputy Commissioner for Human Rights Krzysztof Olkowicz at the opening of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Koszalin. [more].
Participants of the International Academy for Human Rights met with Adam Bodnar
Students from different countries, participants of the International Academy of Human Rights, organized by Humanity In Action, met with the Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar. The Commissioner talked about his observations associated with an increase in racist and xenophobic behaviours, spreading hate speech, attacks on people with a skin colour other than white. They discussed the situation around the Constitutional Tribunal and the importance of the Constitution in Poland and about the positive changes in social policy [more].