Godło RP

Newsletter Commissioner for Human Rights in Poland 11 - 15 March 2019

CHR’S REGIONAL MEETINGS:

From 12 to 15 March, Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar held meetings with residents of the Wielkopolskie Voivodeship in the towns of: Turek, Konin, Ostrów Wlkp., Września, Śrem, Nowy Tomyśl and Poznań within the current series of CHR regional meetings. [more info on the regional meetings’ programme].

Main issues highlighted in the meetings:

  • Early retirement pensions for miners from the Turek and Konin mines. The miners say they are entitled to such pensions, the ZUS social insurance institution in Konin disagrees.
  • The situation of persons with disabilities: no possibilities to exercise the right to independent living; the non- implemented judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal, according to which carers of adults with disabilities should get the same support as carers of children with disabilities.
  • Children born in two different years starting grade 1 in high schools
  • Environmental protection – the problems of: smog (present everywhere), breeding farms (in the town of Września), illegal landfills in the town of Śrem.
  • Transport exclusion

On 15 March in a press conference in Poznań Adam Bodnar presented recommendations of the 2nd Congress on Human Rights that took place on 14-15 December 2018. The material is a result of the work of 1,600 people who came to Warsaw to attend the Congress. Its recommendations indicate issues to which the authorities should pay attention as well as things we can do ourselves. This special document is strongly focused on current issues (all recommendations of the 2nd Congress on Human Rights).

SYSTEM OF JUSTICE

  • The CHR urges the Minister of Justice to reply to his intervention letters regarding criminal matters. Each of those letters concerns people’s specific problems. Citizens have the right to expect that your ministry will treat their problems with due attention. They also trust that you will make every effort to find a good and fair solution to each of the problems, wrote the CHR (more, including a list of intervention letters still without reply)
  • The proceedings before the Constitutional Tribunal concerning the provisions on the National Council of the Judiciary, challenged by the senators, will not be valid, stated the CHR. The Tribunal planned to issue its judgment on 14 March 2019. Yet, the formal deadline for joining the proceedings by the CHR and for the submission of his position on the case expires only on 22 March. (more)
  • The system of probation officers does not function properly: the recruitment procedures do not guarantee the selection of the best candidates; supervision over the officers is also insufficient. The Supreme Audit Office’s inspection has revealed irregularities in the work of probation officers from all examined courts. (more)
  • There is a green light for effective fight against the pollution of surface and underground waters at a place where chemical plants stored toxic waste for 25 years. Following the steps taken by the prosecutor's office and the CHR, a favorable judgment on the case has been issued. (more)
  • The access to files containing confidential information on tax matters is limited. The CHR may only get it when a proceeding before an administrative court is pending. This makes it difficult for the Commissioner to intervene in citizen's disputes with the authorities before the case is taken to court. (more)
  • Spouse’s betrayal and the birth of a child outside the marriage may not be a basis for seeking redress from the betraying spouse and his/her partner pursuant to the provisions on the protection of personal rights. The Supreme Court has issued the ruling after taking into account the Commissioner’s application for classifying the related legally binding verdict null and void. (more)

TENANTS AND OWNERSHIP

  • Many people lost their membership of housing co-operatives after the change of the law that took place in 2017. This happened automatically, without their intention, which is unacceptable in a country ruled by law. Therefore, the Commissioner for Human Rights has appealed to the Constitutional Tribunal for amending the Act on housing cooperatives of 2017. (more)
  • How to return real property that was taken away from people for public sector construction projects that have never been implemented. The CHR’s comments on legislative changes. (more)

EQUAL TREATMENT

  • The Commissioner is conducting an ex-officio explanatory proceeding regarding the beating of an Uber car driver of the Ukrainian nationality, that took place in Warsaw. The CHR will ask the prosecutor whether the motivation of the perpetrators will take into account. According to media reports, the motivating factor was the nationality of the beaten driver. (more)
  • The words of the Małopolskie region’s education inspector that the activities that promote the rights of LGBT persons consist the "propagation of pedophilia" have a homophobic dimension. According to the Commissioner, there are indications that the statement could be assessed as a manifestation of hate speech due to sexual orientation. (more)
  • There are still too few women in elected bodies of public authorities. The proportion of women in the Sejm is 27%, in the Senate it is 13%, and in the case of heads of rural municipalities, town and city mayors it is 12%. In his letter to Minister Lipiński, the Commissioner proposed changes that would increase the share of women in such bodies. . (more)

SOCIAL BENEFITS

  • A 13-year-old boy whose mother is suffering from schizophrenia is brought up by his grandparents. They may not formally seek the family benefits, the 500+ child benefit and the annual school start benefit because, according to the legal definition, they are not the official guardians of the child. The CHR has requested the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy to address the problem of such limitations in the access to the benefits. (more)
  • An officer of the former Security Service, who in the 1980s cooperated with the political opposition and the church, will have restored the retirement pension benefit he had before, has ruled the District Court in Warsaw. This has been the first judgment concerning the reduction of a retirement benefit of a member of the former security services. (more)

RIGHTS OF PERSONS DEPRIVED OF THEIR LIBERTY

  • An arrested man was accompanied by officers of the Prison Service during his meetings with his lawyer. The Commissioner found his complaint justified, and requested the Director of the District Prison Service to ensure that such visits were carried out in an appropriate manner. (more)
  • The CHR has been working for several years with the aim to determine, in the law, the rights of patients of the Gostynin Centre, and to clarify the rules of referring patients there, so that those rules are in accordance with the Constitution and international law. In his latest letter of intervention to the Minister of Health, Adam Bodnar informed the minister of his plan to visit the centre by the end of March, and to speak to the staff and the patients. (more)