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Newsletter Commissioner for Human Rights in Poland 10 – 15 May 2016

Newsletter 10 – 15 May 2016

 

Adam Bodnar on working during Whit Sunday

Before holidays such as the Whit Sunday or Corpus Christi, we are again faced with a dilemma: who and why should work during this holiday, and who can enjoy the constitutional right to rest. In Poland, we have 13 days when it is forbidden to work in commercial establishments. There are certain exceptions: some franchise store networks and smaller stores can be open, among others, when they are run in person by their owners or franchise holders, as well as members of their families. However, we are aware that there are more people working in stores. The ban on work is addressed only to employees, and does not cover people working on the basis of civil contracts and self-employment [more].

Adam Bodnar, Sylwia Spurek and the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights at the 8th Women's Congress

- We should build rather than divide, we should not seek disagreements. We should be accompanied by an atmosphere of cooperation – with these words Adam Bodnar began his speech during the 8th Women's Congress. Among the people participating in the Congress was also the deputy Commissioner Sylwia Spurek and other representatives of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights [coverage of the 8th Women's Congress].

Honorary medal for Aleksandra Dyrda – probation officer from Cieszyn

The District Court in Cieszyn held a ceremony of presenting the Honorary Medal of the Commissioner for Human Rights "For merit to human rights protection" to Aleksandra Dyrda, professional probation officer. In January 2014, Aleksandra Dyrda, while performing professional activities, defended a defenceless woman, which exposed her to aggression from the man in probation. Her professional behaviour prevented a tragedy [more].

CIVIC RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS, THE JUDICIARY

Motion to the Constitutional Tribunal concerning illegally obtained evidence

Can illegally obtained evidence be accepted by court for determining material truth? How does it relate to the right to fair trial, right to privacy, right to protection of the secrecy of communication, prohibition of torture, as well as to the regulations of the Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms? The Commissioner submitted to the Constitutional Tribunal a motion for verifying compliance with the Constitution of the provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which allows for using illegally obtained evidence [more].

Press published by local government authorities

One of the hazards for the freedom of speech, as well as for the civic right of access to public information is publication of press by local governments, especially on commercial terms. In the opinion of the Commissioner, local government units should not publish press, but only bulletins containing objective information, useful for the local community, publications promoting the local government, as well as official messages. The Commissioner for Human Rights applied in this case to the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration [more].

The crime of organising illegal adoptions

Specialists in the field of penal law report a number of reservations towards the presently valid provision relating to the illegal adoption practice. Experts' comments relate mainly to imprecise expressions used in this regulation. As a result, some behaviours - violating children's rights - are not covered by criminal liability. The Commissioner for Human Rights applied in this case to the Minister of Justice [more].

Recovery of cash benefits from real estate

The Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice, Patryk Jaki, provided the Commissioner with his written opinion concerning the issue of statutory regulation of recovery of cash benefits. The inquiry of the Commissioner for Human Rights related to possible constraints on enforcement from real estate, as well as excessive enforcement fees in the case of recovery of the lowest benefits. The issues will be analysed during the works on the draft act related to enforcement costs and on the draft act on changing the Act - Code of Civil Procedure [more].

The Commissioner undertook ex officio the case concerning Police intervention during anarchist demonstration in Poznań

The Commissioner for Human Rights undertook ex officio the case concerning Police intervention during anarchist demonstration next to the Detention Ward in Poznań on 8 May 2016. According to the mass media reports, several people were retained, including the former MP Piotr Ikonowicz and his wife Agata Nosal-Ikonowicz. Supposedly, at the police station at Marcinkowskiego Street, one of the retained was beat up by police officers. The Commissioner for Human Rights turned to the Voivodeship Police Commander in Chief and the Regional Prosecutor's Office in Poznań for relevant information.

Ban on entry for sports fans from outside the poviat

The Commissioner is contacted by citizens, who were refused entry to a game only due to their place of residence. The sports fans have no effective way to oppose such a refusal, which may be inconsistent with the Act on Security of Mass Events. The Commissioner for Human Rights turned with this problem to the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration [more].

On the institution of court experts

The Commissioner requested the Minister of Justice to provide information about the progress of legislative works concerning the draft act on court experts. In response, the Ministry informed about stricter criminal sanctions for intentional forging of opinions and introduction of a possibility to reduce remuneration for the expert, and even not to grant remuneration at all. In addition, the planned, comprehensive statutory regulation of experts' operation should guarantee increase both in the quality of opinions, as well as the efficiency of their issuing [more].

Principles of collecting local tax in Toruń

The Supreme Administrative Court approved the cassation appeal of the Commissioner for Human Rights concerning resolution of the Municipal Council of Toruń. The district council introduced in the act of the local law a provision stating the obligation to pay local tax arises from the moment of registering or reporting within the city of Toruń. The resolution unreasonably expanded the tax obligation as compared to the Act [more].

EQUAL TREATMENT

Meeting with rabbi Andrew Baker

The Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar and his deputy Sylwia Spurek met in the Office of the CHR with rabbi Andrew Baker, Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe for Combating Anti-Semitism [more].

The Commissioner for Human Rights's visit in Oświęcim

"A European - who is he/she?" – that is the main theme of the 3rd International Conference Europe towards challenges of the 21st century, which were attended by the Commissioner for Human Rights. The event was held as part of the activities of the Oświęcim Forum for Human Rights. During the visit in Oświęcim, the Commissioner also met with Roman Kwiatkowski – co-founder and President of the General Board of the Romani Association in Poland, as well as visited the Jewish Centre [more].

HOMELESSNESS

Indebtedness of former tenants of municipal apartments

In Warsaw, indebtedness of former tenants of municipal apartments, according to approximate data provided by mass media and lodgers' organisations, already reaches about PLN 500 million and concerns 86 thousand housing premises. Prolonging this state of affairs, without undertaking effective remedial actions, will contribute to an increase of the homelessness problem, which will concern the most indebted tenants of tenement houses taken over through re-privatisation. Therefore, the Commissioner proposed the President the Capital City of Warsaw to cooperate in order to find a solution to this problem [more].

ELDERLY PEOPLE

For our and your old age!

Within 2 weeks, we received 41 applications in our campaign. We have already formed a quite broad group of people and organisations interested in the issue of the Convention on the Rights of Elderly People and perhaps we can grow in number. According to the announcement, we want to slowly create a platform for debates. Please, prepare for a long way together, because these kinds of documents are created for several years [more].

Medical certificates for senior citizens participating in sport classes

Medical certificates for senior citizens – attending Universities of the Third Age - certifying lack of medical restrictions against participating in sports classes are issued against fees. The Ministry of Health assures that this type of certificate was supposed to be classified as health care benefits financed from the public funds. However, draft amendment of the act does not provide for the solution postulated by the Commissioner. For this reason, the Commissioner for Human Rights again applied in this case to the Minister of Health [more].

EDUCATION

Employees of research institutes with no right to paid sabbatical leave

Employees of research institutes have no right to paid sabbatical leave, which would allow them to intensify works on their PhD theses. However, such an option is available for university teachers. In response to the speech of the Commissioner, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education informed, among others, that it notices the existing diversity of rights. Perhaps launching a legislative process related to the new act on higher education will offer a possibility to introduce the changes postulated by the Commissioner for Human Rights [more].

Kindergartens for all children in Warsaw since 2017

The Commissioner filed a motion to the President the Capital City of Warsaw concerning the planned way of implementation of the obligation to provide kindergarten education for children who are three years old and older, which will be in force since 1 September 2017. In response, the Vice President informed that, since autumn 2017, Warsaw will be ready to provide kindergarten care to all children aged 3 to 6 years. For this purpose, 4000 new places in kindergartens are to be created [more].

WORK

Right to submit an application for entry on the list of attorneys

The Law on the Bar envisages expiry of the right to submit an application for entry on the list of attorneys after 10 years from obtaining a positive result of the attorney's examination. The regulation unreasonably limits the constitutional right to pursuit a profession, as well as the principle of a democratic legal state.  In his speech to the Minister of Justice, the Commissioner emphasised that, in accordance with the previously binding regulations, a person meeting the statutory requirements to be entered on the list of attorneys, obtained this right for indefinite time [more].

Financial aid only for farmers insured in KRUS?

Regulations allow for taking advantage of financial aid for young farmers under the Rural Areas Development Programme only by farmers insured in KRUS. On the other hand, these rights do not cover farmers, who - due to, among others, previous professional activity not related to agriculture - are insured in ZUS. The Commissioner again requested the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to present explanations in this case [more].

RIGHTS OF PEOPLE DEPRIVED OF THEIR LIBERTY

On underage mothers in Youth Care Centres

The Commissioner for several years has strived to provide underage mothers staying in Youth Care Centres with constant contact with their children. In the response from 21 April 2016, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of National Education, Teresa Wargocka, indicated, among others, that the case concerning participation – whenever possible – of such an underage mother in custody over a child is solved by the family support system and foster care of professional specialist foster families. On the other hand, the legislator did not intend for newborns, infants and small children to stay with their underage mothers in the Centres [more].

Participation of a convict in court meetings

The Commissioner examined the case of the application of a convict, who complained that he was refused the opportunity to take part in appeal court meeting examining his complaint against the decision on refusal to granting a leave in serving the custodial sentence.  In the opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights, it cannot be assumed that participation of the convict's defence attorney in the meeting is sufficient to exercise the convict's right to participate in the proceedings. The Director of the Department for Executing Court Decisions and Probation in the Ministry of Justice presented his position, where he fully agreed with the Commissioner's opinion on this matter [more].

Post-penitentiary aid

Currently, a substantial group of imprisoned persons is excluded from using individual forms of aid granted from the Fund for Aid for the Victims and the Post-penitentiary Aid. This form of support cannot be granted to, among others, people subject to a protective measure in the form of admittance to a psychiatric ward. The Commissioner filed to the Minister of Justice a postulate to change regulations within this scope [more].

Return inspection visit in the Centre in Rejowiec

On 28 April 2016, representatives of the National Prevention Mechanism (KMP) made a return inspection visit in the Non-public Youth Care Centre in Rejowiec (NMOW). The first inspection in the NMOW took place on 18 March 2016, after the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights received an request for intervention concerning improper treatment of minors admitted to the Centre ( as well as on the basis of disturbing mass media reports) [more].

Prison health care

The Commissioner proposed to the Minister of Justice to re-consider appointing an inter-department team, which will develop a medical care functioning model for imprisoned persons [more].

Voting rights of people deprived of their liberty

Some imprisoned persons, formally having full voting rights, in practice cannot effectively participate in local government elections.  The very fact of being present in the penitentiary facility or in custody cannot limit voting rights of these persons. Therefore, the Commissioner applied for presenting the stand of the State Electoral Commission on ensuring actual voting right for persons deprived of their liberty [more].

The National Prevention Mechanism at workshops of the Council of Europe for the Polish Police

In Cracow, workshops took place concerning treatment of retained people, methodology for performing inspections in places of imprisonment, the European human rights protection system. The training was organised by the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Voivodeship Police Headquarters in Cracow. The workshops involved participation of, among others, representatives of municipal and poviat police headquarters with rooms for the detained [more].

OTHER ACTIONS OF THE COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

VAT on e-books

On 14 June, a hearing before the Great Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union will take place, concerning compliance of the EU Directive imposing higher - as compared to the traditional publications - taxation by Value Added Tax on e-books. The trial concerns compliance of this directive with, among others, the principle of equality contained in Article 20 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The case was initiated at the request of the Polish Commissioner to the Polish Constitutional Tribunal [more].

25th anniversary of the Nobody's Children Foundation

The right to safety, development and respect is attributable to every person, also to children. Unfortunately, sometimes adults forget about this and hurt children, deprive them of their dignity. For 25 years, children experiencing various kinds of violence have been helped by the Nobody's Children Foundation. The ceremonies related to the anniversary of the organisation were attended by the Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar [more].