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Newsletter Commissioner for Human Rights in Poland 15 - 21 November 2016

Newsletter 15-21 November, 2016

MAIN MATTERS

A dispute about Facebook. The debate at the Commissioner’s office with participation of all stakeholders

Facebook: hate speech - freedom of speech. A challenge to civilization and law, or a crisis of values? "- nearly 100 persons took part in the debate held at the CHR Office, and five times as much watched it live on the internet. The Commissioner arranged the discussion alarmed by the right-wing circles which reported that their Facebook pages were blocked before November 11. More than 30 persons took part in the discussion; they included representatives of the nationalist movement, the left-wing organizations, as well as experts in internet technologies, human rights, hate speech, and representatives of the government administration. The debate was intended to help the CHR to formulate a position on that matter.  The recording and transcripts of the three-hour meeting are available at rpo.gov.pl.

THE COMMISSIONER ON CITIZENS’ ISSUES

The case of Joanna of Zielona Góra and her right to custody of the daughter

The right of a parent with disability to custody of the child. The CHR responded to the information about problems faced by Joanna of Zielona Góra, using a procedure followed in similar cases. According to the procedure established by the CHR Office, when the media inform of such a complicated and difficult situation a representative of the CHR visits the place, collects information and takes action to help to solve the problem. Joanna is reliant on a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy.  Having examined the situation of Joanna’s family, the court in Zielona Góra decided that her 5-month daughter should be placed in a foster family until Joanna gets proper support in the care of her child. To that end, the CHR has taken action to provide appropriate support to Joanna’s family [more].

Chełm: How to solve the problems of people with disabilities and their caregivers?

The rights of caregivers of adults with disabilities.  At a regional meeting with the CHR, the parents of adult children with severe disabilities reported the problem of lack of support faced by them in the city of Chełm. The local community reacted quickly by starting to work out a solution to the problem.  On November 16, the representatives of Chełm authorities, city residents and experts met to discuss the current effects of the works.  This was an example of decisive action taken by the CHR similarly as in the case of Joanna of Zielona Góra. [more].

Poznań. The draft amendment to the Tenant Protection Act takes into account the postulates of the CHR

The effects of mediation of the CHR in Poznań. On 8 November, the draft amendment to the Tenant Protection Law was submitted to public consultations; the draft takes into account the CHR's postulates relating to solving the problems caused by reprivatisation. The postulates were developed as a result of the joint meetings of the CHR, Poznań authorities, and the association of tenants [more].

Concerns of the citizens regarding the closing down of lower-level secondary schools

A lot of people, in their reports submitted to the CHR as well as at recently held meetings with the regional CHRs, have been sharing their concerns about the planned change of the education system. In his letter to Minister of Education Anna Zalewska, the CHR presented their doubts and pointed out that the problem relates not only to the current students of the 6th grade of elementary schools [more].

Meeting with experts on the extension of the Opole municipality’s boundaries

The CHR is helping to find a solution to the local problem.  Representatives of the German minority, scientists specializing in the subject of local governments and employees of the CHR Office have discussed consequences of the extension of the Opole municipality’s boundaries [more].

The practice of forced donations to hospitals for anaesthesia during child delivery criticised by the court

A hearing on the case of an agreement to give a donation to a hospital in return for anaesthesia during child delivery was held before the District Court in Warsaw. In its oral opinion the Court agreed with the position of the CHR stressing that the practice of signing agreements in such situations is unacceptable and requires a systemic change [more].

The conditions in which the Police carried out their duties during the Independence Day

Workers’ rights.  The employees of the CHR Office carried out inspection visits in selected places of accommodation and concentration of Police officers providing security services during the Independence Day.  The inspectors’ observations are available at rpo.gov.pl

LEGISLATION

The right to attendance benefit for caregivers of adult persons with disabilities

Despite the fact that the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal on the attendance benefits for caregivers of adults with disabilities has not yet been enforced, the caregivers can assert the right to the benefit before the courts. The Supreme Administrative Court has upheld the cassation complaint filed by the Commissioner in one of such cases [more].

Dry cleaning & laundry services harmful to health? The Commissioner intervenes on the outdated legislation

The regulations on maximum permitted concentrations of harmful substances emitted by, inter alia, construction materials and operating equipment have not been changed over the past 20 years.  During that period new substances potentially harmful to the health have been introduced.  This relates, among others, to one of the chemicals used at dry cleaners. The Commissioner has asked the Minister of Health to take action [more].

Is permanent habitation within the boundaries of allotment gardens allowed?

Anyone who, contrary to the applicable legal regulations, resides permanently within the boundaries of an allotment garden may be evicted and a court will not grant such a person the right to a municipal flat.  The District Court in Poznań, in consideration of the difficult financial situation and very poor health condition of a person who lives in the allotment garden, has suspended the eviction for a period of 3 years [more].

The recommendations of the CHR on equal access to religion and ethics lessons

The CHR has submitted to the Minister of National Education his recommendations ensuring equal access to religion lessons and ethics lessons to all interested students, while respecting the constitutional right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their own convictions [more].

When will the 24-hour emergency hotline service for victims of gender-based violence start operating?

The Commissioner has asked the Minister of Family, Labour, and Social Policy for information on the opening of 24-hour telephone service for victims of gender-based violence and domestic violence.  Crisis situations often happen at night when such service is not available. The Commissioner has also asked about actions taken in order to adjust the emergency hotline service to the needs of older women, women with disabilities and migrant women [more].

Victims of domestic violence should benefit from housing assistance under specific provisions

The CHR has applied to the Minister of Infrastructure and Construction to undertake legislative works aimed at improving the housing situation of victims of domestic violence, including special preference in the use of municipal housing assistance [more].

The report on the rights of suspects and accused persons in the European Union

What happens when an individual has the law-related problem in an EU country and does not know the country’s language? How should the individual find out about his/her rights or make use of his/her right to defence? What is the situation of such foreigners in Poland?  This information is available in the recent report of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights [more].

May the Polish Post employees inspect our homes to determine whether we use a TV set?

The CHR Office receives complaints relating to the inspections verifying whether people have TV sets and radios at their homes.  Among other matters of concern there are doubts as to whether employees of the Polish Post have the power to enter a private dwelling to determine whether a citizen has a TV set or a radio.  The Commissioner has written a letter on this matter to the Minister of Infrastructure and Construction [more].

The CHR: the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal concerning the suspension of driving licences

The Commissioner has requested the Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Senate of the Republic of Poland to take legislative action to implement the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal concerning the suspension of a driving licence in the case of exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/h in built-up areas [more].

The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection on the Anti-Terrorism Act

The reply of the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection concerning the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act was forwarded to the CHR for information [more].

Another meeting of the Alimony and Child Support Team

The 5th meeting of the Alimony and Child Support Team was held at the headquarters of the CHR Office. The participants of the meeting discussed, inter alia, the court verdicts issued based on Article 209 of the Penal Code which relates to the offence of failure to pay alimony [more].

What is going on with the regulations on the protection against discrimination?

The CHR has requested the Government Representative for Equal Treatment and Civic Society to provide information and explanation and to ensure access to the opinions which impacted the content of the Republic of Poland’s position on the so-called “Horizontal Directive” [more].

Participation of citizens in the meetings of municipal authorities – decision of the Voivodeship Administrative Court

The Commissioner lodged a complaint with the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Kraków against the refusal by the Chairman of the Municipal Council Audit Committee to allow a citizen to take part in the Committee meeting.  The Voivodeship Administrative Court shared the Commissioner’s opinion [more].

THE CHRONICLE

Maciej Lis award for Lydia Lempart

On November 16 at the University of Wroclaw Lidia Lempart was honoured with the Maciej Lis award for her work for persons with disabilities and for building the civil society in Poland and Ukraine [more].

The discussion on the CHR’s budget

On November 17, members of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Finance discussed the CHR budget. The CHR stressed that the adoption of the proposed budget would allow, inter alia, to carry out more frequent visits at nursing homes, including private-sector ones, and thus to prevent cases of abuse and cruel treatment of the residents of such homes [more].

Aleksandr Bialacki visited the CHR Office

- It is very important for us that the Polish programme to promote democracy and free media in Belarus is continued, said Aleksandr Bialacki, a well-known Belarusian human rights activist at the open meeting held at the CHR Office [more].

The annual report of the CHR in the Senate

Upon submitting to the Senators the annual report for 2015, Adam Bodnar expressed his gratitude for good cooperation with the Senate thanks to which it was possible to solve the specific problems reported to the CHR Office.  These were, inter alia, cases of persons repressed in the Polish People’s Republic, victims of accidents in 1990s, and parents of stillborn children whose sex could not be determined [more].

How to make the Emergency Call Centres accessible for the hearing-impaired persons?

Basing on the Olsztyn experience, the participants to the meeting held in the CHR Office discussed how to implement solutions to help the hearing-impaired persons to contact the emergency services also in other Polish cities [more].

The deputy CHR at the European Conference on the rights of senior citizens

The participants at 4th AGE Platform Europe Annual Conference held in Brussels addressed the issue of preventing the age discrimination and gthe strengthening of economic and social rights of older people. The opening speech was delivered by Sylwia Spurek, PhD, the deputy CHR for equal treatment. [more].

19 days against violence and harming children and youth

Within the framework of the “19 days” campaign organized by the  “Po Drugie” Foundation several dozen young people from youth educational centres, shelters for minors and reform schools  met with Adam Bodnar - the Commissioner for Human Rights [more].

The Conference on the rights of women

How to protect, strengthen and promote reproductive and sexual rights of women? An answer to  this question was sought by participants in the “ European standards of implementation of the reproductive and sexual rights of women. Twenty-five years of Poland’s presence in the Council of Europe" debate. Adam Bodnar was one of the participants in the discussion [more].

The lecture to senior citizens

Adam Bodnar spoke about activities for older people carried out by the CHR during his lecture for students of the Wilanów University of the Third Age [more].

20 November - International Transgender Day of Remembrance

The violence experienced each day by transgender persons is a violation of their dignity and the right to personal security.  All such acts should meet a firm response of the law enforcement authorities. The scale of the problem and the related activities carried out by the CHR to date are described at rpo.gov.pl