Newsletter Commissioner for Human Rights in Poland 17- 21 June 2019
REPORT ON THE ACTIVITY OF THE COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND ON THE OBSERVANCE OF HUMAN AND CIVIL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS IN 2018
In 2018, people turned to the Commissioner for Human Rights 57 thousand times i.e. by about 5 thousand times more than a year before. Almost a half (i.e. 25 thousand) of the incoming applications related to new cases and problems. The other reported matters related to problems which the CHR had already identified before and was already working on. The number of new cases increased by nearly 2500 compared to the previous year.
The report has been drawn up as a result of the joint effort of all those who reported important issues to the CHR and attended the meetings with Adam Bodnar across the country.
The report is based on the structure of the Constitution which is a shared commitment towards all citizens. Article after article, the practical exercise of the individual rights and freedoms is described. We worked on the report for a long time in the hope that its new form will be better and more constructive. Instead of a report on the Commissioner for Human Rights’ interventions we developed a description of the state of observance of our rights and freedoms, based on cases reported by citizens.
In this way, we attempted to diagnose the condition of the state. Obviously, based on citizens’ complaints, we focused on issues that are difficult or painful, on violations and lack of respect for the rights that are guaranteed to all of us.
We believe that the report, in its current new form, may contribute to disseminating the described experiences beyond the very narrow group of people who read it every year in the formal context.
We do not expect the readers to read the full text of the report as it summarizes over 20,000 problems and has almost 600 pages. Yet, we believe that everyone will find something interesting for themselves, at least one article of the Constitution that is important and interesting for them.
(ANNUAL REPORT OF THE CHR)
STANDARDS OF ASSISTANCE FOR CHILDREN WHOSE PARENTS HAVE SEPARATED: A GUIDEBOOK FOR PARENTS AND PROFESSIONALS
Parents’ conflicts and separation are always an emotional burden for a child. They influence the child’s feelings as well as psychological and physical development. As a result, they also impact many people around: friends, teachers, psychologists, judges, legal guardians, lawyers, the police and doctors. They are all important. They all can contribute to the fact that the separation of parents does not become an unbearable trauma for the child.
Therefore, the Commissioner for Human Rights, together with the jointly with the NGOs Forum that has published a guidebook on the subject for parents and professionals, have held a discussion on the standards of assistance for children whose parents have separated.
The standards are accompanied by a therapeutic story entitled “A little fish” about a small fish whose parents split up. The story is read by Artur Barciś who this way has supported the promotion of the standards. The story is available on the YouTube channel of the Commissioner for Human Rights. (THE GUIDEBOOK)
COURTS AND SYSTEM OF JUSTICE
- The man suspected of the cruel murder of a child in Mrowiny did not have to have his hands handcuffed on his back and walked to the car in a bent position and without his shoes on. This was not necessary as he demonstrated no resistance. The measures used by the police seem disproportionate and may be understood as a demonstration and manifestation of the power of the state towards the individual, which should not be done in a democratic state of law (statement of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture and a statement regarding the case of Tomasz Komenda).
- SEE ALSO Commissioner for Human Rights Adama Bodnar’s statement: I have defended and will continue to defend human dignity in all circumstances. This arises not only from my constitutional and statutory duties but also from my inner belief.
- A prosecutor wanted the court to place a woman who accused other people of acting against her, in a psychiatric hospital. The psychiatrist did not exclude that hospital treatment could help, but at the same time confirmed that the patient was able to live independently. The Commissioner expressed his objections regarding the compulsory treatment of the citizen who had the constitutional right to file petitions, complaints and motions. As a result, the prosecutor withdrew the motion and the case was discontinued. (more)
- Another judgment of the European Court of Human Rights regarding excessive use of coercive measures by the police. In 2011, an arrested man suffered injuries and was attacked with an electrical weapon by police officers, although he surrendered and was immobilized. After two days he was released without any charges. - Police officers must be aware that in a democratic state the main source of effectiveness is the citizens’ respect for their service. Respect is not the same as fear of a brutal and unpredictable treatment, wrote the Commissioner in his letter to the Ministry of the Interior and Administration. (more)
- A man accused of fraud was convicted as a repetitive offender, which affected the severity of the sentence. The Commissioner lodged a cassation appeal in his case because the courts incorrectly applied the provisions on repetitive offences. The Supreme Court agreed with the appeal and referred the case back to the appeal court. (more)
FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND RIGHT TO PRIVACY
- The director of the Music Theatre in Chorzów was dismissed after publishing a recording of a private conversation in which she exchanged opinions with the director of a staged play. The Commissioner for Human Rights requsted the Marshal of the Śląskie Voivodeship for explanations on the case. (more)
- Did the Ministry of National Education collect data on teachers’ participation in the strike? The Commissioner wrote to the President of the Office for Personal Data Protection. (more)
- Mayor of Przemyśl Wojciech Bakun refused to agree to organize a happening devoted to Polish-Ukrainian relations. The Commissioner requested him to explain the reasons and to indicate the legal basis. (more)
- 41% of statements published on the Polish internet about Ukrainians were negative, 42% were neutral, and only 17% were positive, according to the second report on the perception of Ukrainians. The report was discussed in a conference at the CHR Office. (more)
- 20 June is the World Refugee Day established by the UN General Assembly in 2000. This day makes us aware of how many people around the world experience torture, persecution or the atrocities of wars. The fear of losing one’s life or family forces over 60 million people a year to leave all that is important and close to them and to go to another country. (more)
RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
People with disabilities, including blind and deaf people can make use of movies as a form of culture. Copies of every movie should be made available in forms accessible for such people. This applies in particular to child stories and family movies. The Commissioner for Human Rights forwarded this postulate to the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. (more)
The government has announced that it will resolve the problem of the old house saving scheme but no details have been given. Since February, the Minister of Infrastructure and Development has not answered the CHR's questions and thus the Commissioner has once again written a letter to hm regarding the matter. (more)
ACCESS TO RAILWAY TRANSPORT
The Rail Transport Authority has requested Przewozy Regionalne company to change its decision regarding the railway connections to/from Kostrzyn where the Pol'and'Rock festival is to be held. It has also requested the company PKP Intercity SA to revise the plans to change the train routes for the duration of the festival. The Commissioner for Human Rights intervened in the matter. (more)
RIGHTS OF PERSONS DEPRIVED OF LIBERTY
- The Prison Service wants the law amended so as to make it impossible to imprison persons with acute psychosis or in life-threatening condition. This initiative is positively assessed by the Commissioner who, for the last 4 years, has been emphasizing that appropriate treatment can not be provided to such persons in prisons. (more)
- After the death of Agnieszka Pysz in the temporary detention facility in Warsaw, no disturbing behaviours or disorders in the other detainees were observed. Had there been such a need, psychological consultations would be carried out on the initiative of the staff. Every detainee may also seek psychologist assistance, replied the Prison Service to the CHR’s letter referring to the lack of psychological assistance for the other detainees after the woman’s death. (more)