Godło RP

Newsletter Commissioner for Human Rights in Poland 14-19 June 2016

Newsletter 14-19 June 2016

CIVIL RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES, JUSTICE SYSTEM

Report of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe on the state of human rights in Poland

– Having in mind the key role of the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights in the protection and promotion of human rights, the Commissioner calls on the Polish authorities to ensure the full independence of this institution by providing the possibility of effectively fulfilling its mandate on the basis of stable and sufficient financing and protection of a fair, transparent and impartial procedure for suspending the immunity of the Commissioner as an effect of criminal proceedings – the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Nils Muižnieks wrote in the summary report of his visit to Poland in February this year. [learn more].

The Venice Commission has published the opinion on the Polish "surveillance act"

The Commission notes that a number of countries today is facing the problem of a conflict between two values: the security of citizens and the right of citizens to privacy. Not only the Polish legal arrangements could raise criticism. While indicating this international aspect, the Commission stresses, however, that after the amendments made in 2016 to the Act on the Police, the services have received all-too-broad competences that can directly violate the right to privacy [learn more].

The refusal to award a grant to the Center for Women’s Rights, BABA – Lubusz Association for Women and the Empowering Children Foundation

Assistance to victims of domestic violence, women in particular, offered currently by the State, is insufficient. Therefore, the refusal to award a grant to two organisations helping women who fall victim of violence – the Center for Women's Rights and the BABA – Lubusz Association for Women, as well as the Nobody's Children Foundation (currently – Empowering Children Foundation) caused the concern of the Commissioner for Human Rights. The Commissioner approached the Minister of Justice in this matter [learn more].

Court of Justice of the European Union considers the matter of VAT on e-books

The hearing before the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union, during which the parties presented their arguments, was held on June 14. Mirosław Wróblewski, the Director of the Constitutional, International and European Law Team, and the Deputy Director of said team Agnieszka Grzelak, represented the Commissioner for Human Rights during the hearing [learn more].

Petitions won't have to be signed by electronic signatures

As at present, e-petitions can be signed using qualified electronic signature, but it will not be a mandatory requirement – as results from the self-amendment proposed by the Minister of Development to the draft law on trust services and electronic identification. The Commissioner for Human Rights has intervened in this matter [learn more].

Persons without a fixed income excluded from municipal housing assistance?

If the resident of a municipality does not have a permanent source of income which guarantees the payment of rent, then it becomes a reason to exclude them from the possibility of obtaining municipal housing assistance – as derived from a provision adopted by the City Council in Busko-Zdrój. The Ordinance of 27 March 2014 concerned the provisions for renting public housing. The Commissioner for Human Rights challenged this ordinance before an administrative court. On 16 June 2016, the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Kielce supported the Commissioner's arguments and annulled the contested provision [learn more].

Safety of workers using cranes

There are no regulations that ensure safe and healthy working conditions for workers using cranes, including ones covering such basic issues as the maximum permissible working hours or the method of documenting the device's history of operation. There are also no regulations as to the standard equipment of a crane's cabin. The Commissioner approached the Minister of Development in this matter [learn more].

Controlling the operation of security companies

Economic activity, subject to licensing, in the form of protecting persons and property, due to its potential interference with values protected by the Constitution, requires special supervision by the State. In his motion to the Minister of Interior and Administration, the Commissioner presented his doubts about the procedure of controlling the activity of security companies by the licensing authority [learn more].

On the protection of personal data in the "500 Plus" Programme

Some of the regulations adopted in the act introducing the "Family 500 Plus" programme raise doubts from the point of view of privacy and personal data. Therefore, the Commissioner approached the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy in May to include these comments in the next amendment to the Act.  In her response, the Minister announced that she does not share the Commissioner's concerns. At the same time, she pointed out that the Ministry plans to carry out a comprehensive review and evaluation of the arrangements contained in the Act within the next 12 months [learn more].

On publishing newspapers by local authorities

The Deputy Minister of Interior Sebastian Chwałek shares the Commissioner's concerns as to the possibility of local government units publishing newspapers. In the opinion of the Commissioner, local government units should not publish newspapers, but only bulletins that contain objective information which are useful to the local community, publications promoting the local authority, as well as official communications. The Commissioner approached the Minister of Interior and Administration in this matter. [learn more].

Charging excessive recruitment fees by universities

The Commissioner for Human Rights is receiving information about universities charging excessive recruitment fees, which violates the provisions of the Act on Higher Education. This problem has been recognised by the Supreme Audit Office and presented in the "Pronouncement on Audit Results – Tuition at Public Colleges and Universities" report. The Commissioner approached the Minister of Science and Higher Education with a question about the measures he intends to carry out to remove these irregularities [learn more].

Pensions of soldiers called to service after 31 December 2012

The retirement systems of uniformed services exhibit discrepancies arising from differences in terminology between labour regulations concerning soldiers and officers of other uniformed services. In the opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights, in the future they may lead to unjustified discrepancies in the right to retirement pension. The Commissioner approached the Minister of National Defence to amend the provisions [learn more].

Providing adequate staffing of nurses and midwives

The Commissioner appealed to the Minister of Health to take systemic action that will allow for a real increase in the number of nurses and midwives in the public health care system. It is necessary to radically improve working conditions and raise the remuneration of this professional group. A high ageing profile of nurses and midwives, declining interest of young people in pursuing this occupation, as well as labour migration of this professional group is a growing problem [learn more].

EQUAL TREATMENT

The refusal to award a grant to the Center for Women’s Rights, BABA – Lubusz Association for Women and the Empowering Children Foundation

Assistance to victims of domestic violence, women in particular, offered currently by the State, is insufficient. Therefore, the refusal to award a grant to two organisations helping women who fall victim of violence – the Center for Women's Rights and the BABA – Lubusz Association for Women, as well as the Nobody's Children Foundation (currently – Empowering Children Foundation) caused the concern of the Commissioner for Human Rights. The Commissioner approached the Minister of Justice in this matter [learn more].

Equinet: Equality bodies require more effective regulation

The current EU legislation does not guarantee full independence to equality bodies, which translates into a lack of effectiveness and insufficient powers to successfully protect victims of discrimination – institutions gathered around Equinet, a European network of national equality bodies, alarm and call for strengthening the position of equality bodies. The Deputy Commissioner for Human Rights dr Sylwia Spurek and the Director of the Equal Treatment Team and member of Equinet's board Anna Błaszczak participated in a conference devoted to the exchange of experiences between national equality bodies [learn more].

Availability of religious education for minority religions and ethics classes

The Minister of National Education took note of the "Availability of minority religions classes and ethics classes within the school education system. Analysis and recommendations" report, which summarises the research instituted by the Commissioner for Human Rights. In a letter sent to the Commissioner, Deputy Minister Teresa Wargocka shared some of the concerns raised in the report. At the same time, she stipulated that the Ministry is not planning any amendments to the regulations existing in this area at the moment [learn more].

Coordination of measures in the fight against hate crimes

– The duty of the State and public authorities is to prevent xenophobia, fight against racism, intolerance and discrimination, however – the right tools are needed for these measures to be effective. The Council for the Prevention of Racial. Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, in my opinion, did not fulfil this role – the Minister of Digital Affairs Anna Streżyńska wrote in response to the Commissioner's motion [learn more].

Sylwia Spurek at the conference of the European Network of Ombudsmen

The Deputy Commissioner for Human Rights dr Sylwia Spurek took part in an international conference of the European Network of Ombudsmen which discussed the key challenges faced by the European Union and the governments of Member States. The event was organised in Brussels by the European Ombudsman. National and regional ombudsmen from across Europe, as well as MPs, EU officials and representatives of non-governmental organisation attended the discussion [learn more].

The situation of Roma immigrants in Poland

Foreigners – EU citizens who do not have financial resources or health insurance, and do not have any real chance to undertake employment, encounter difficulties in registering their stay in Poland. Romanian citizens of Roma origin, living in many Polish cities, often find themselves in such situations. The Commissioner informed the Minister of Interior and Administration about this problem in November 2015. Now he asked, whether the Ministry is working on the announced regulatory changes that would facilitate the registration of stay in Poland for EU citizens [learn more].

RIGHTS OF THE ELDERLY

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – the Commissioner's call

On the occasion of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (15 June), the Commissioner for Human Rights called everyone to increase their involvement in measures aimed at eliminating all forms of violence and abuse against the elderly [learn more].

The Golden Book of Best Practices - we are waiting for proposals until June 30

In many towns, the local authorities and non-governmental organisations work for the benefit of the elderly. Do we know every good practice out there? Are there any worth promoting? The Commissioner is collecting ideas for the second edition of the Golden Book of Best Practices until 30 June. These best practices can then be shared across the country [learn more].

RIGHTS OF THE DISABLED

The form of refusal to co-finance rehabilitation holidays

The decision on the application to co-finance a rehabilitation holiday from PFRON funds takes the form of an administrative decision, which may be complained against before an administrative court – the Commissioner considers. Therefore, he made a request to the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy to eliminate the practice of providing information on the refusal to co-finance a rehabilitation holiday without issuing a decision, which violates constitutional standards, as well as rejecting the possibility to lodge a complaint against such decisions [learn more].

RIGHTS OF PERSONS DEPRIVED OF LIBERTY

Visit to the Central Point for Exchanging Persons Escorted in Stages

On 15 June 2016, dr Ewa Dawidziuk, Director of the Penalty Execution Team and Jolanta Nowakowska, chief specialist in said Team, conducted a visit to the Central Point for Exchanging Persons Escorted in Stages (hereinafter: Certain Point or CPEPES), located in the Municipal Police Station in Piotrków Trybunalski. Despite the difficult conditions present on the premises of the Central Point, no information concerning possible mistreatment were provided by the escorted persons [learn more].

OTHER ACTIVITIES OF THE COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

The General Assembly of Judges of the Supreme Court attended by Stanislaw Trociuk

– Today's ceremony is an opportunity to discuss the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, but it is also the right moment to reflect on the functioning of the Polish judiciary, made up of courts and tribunals – said Stanisław Trociuk, Deputy Commissioner for Human Rights, during the annual General Assembly of the Judges of the Supreme Court. The meeting was devoted to informing about the activities of the Supreme Court in 2015 [learn more].