Godło RP

Newsletter Commissioner for Human Rights in Poland 17 - 21 September 2018


The impossibility to appeal against the decision of the prosecutor's office that ordered exhumation of the bodies of the victims of the Smolensk disaster constituted a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, adjudicated the European Court of Human Rights on 20 September 2018 on the case against Poland (complaints nos. 30491/17 and 31083/17). In 2016, the Commissioner for Human Rights took steps regarding the matter, and his position described in the complaints filed with the Prosecutor General has now been reflected in the ECHR judgment. (more)

In Gdańsk, an annual meeting of the Ombudsmen of the Visegrad Group countries was held. The meeting venue was the European Solidarity Center (ESC). The Ombudsmen discussed e.g. the role of international agreements in ombudsmen’s work, the freedom of speech, as well as education in the field of human rights. They also met with Lech Wałęsa, and visited the ECS and the World War II Museum. (more)

Members of the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament talked to CHR Adam Bodnar in Warsaw. The Committee’s delegation arrived to Poland in order to assess the threats to the rule of law and EU fundamental values. (more)

Recommendations for Poland, issued by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities relate, inter alia, to the need to introduce a uniform system of disability assessment, developed with the participation of organizations of persons with disabilities; to abolish the system of incapacitation, to enforce the right of persons with disabilities to live independently within the local community with support provided by personal assistants, and to take into account the rights of women with disabilities. (more)


Children, persons with disabilities or bedridden patients may be evicted to the street if they live with a family member who has lost the title to his/her apartment because of being in debt. The matter was forwarded to the Ministry of Infrastructure by the Ministry of Justice for finding a solution. Therefore, the CHR  provided the full documentation on the issue to the latter ministry, hoping that it will be able to solve the problem. (more)

People file complaints with the Commissioner in connection with the fact that the ZUS Social Insurance Institution deducts too high amounts from old age pensions and disability pensions in the case of conducted proceedings relating to the person’s consumer bankruptcy. According to the CHR, this not only violates the civil rights of the bankrupt person but also extends the bankruptcy proceedings. The Commissioner has therefore addressed the ZUS President with regard to the irregularities. (more)

Mothers with young children, who visit their family members in prison, are not allowed to bring food or disposable nappies for their children when arriving with them to such institutions. There are also no separate places for breastfeeding mothers and for baby changing within the spaces assigned for prison visitors. Deputy CHR Hanna Machińska, Ph. D.,  has requested Director General of the Prison Service Jacek Kitlinski to take relevant steps. (more)

Bus drivers in big cities do not have guaranteed breaks between individual drives along their bus routes. The applicable regulations do not take into account traffic jams, changes in the traffic system organization, road accidents or vehicle failures. This often results in drivers having to drive their buses without any break, in order to make up for the delays against the timetable. The CHR has submitted a letter of intervention to the Chief Inspector for Road Transportation and the Chief Labour Inspector with regard to the issue. (more)

In August 2018, the police stopped paying certain benefits to police officers. Later the decision was cancelled, and officers were assured that the benefits were not at risk.  However, the Ministry of the Interior and Administration requested the Prime Minister to increase the police budget by allocating certain amounts from the general-purpose reserve. The Commissioner has asked the ministry what specific shortages caused that request, and how the minister plans to avoid such situations in the future. (more)

In 2015, Mr. Jan posted a movie on the Internet. In the movie, entitled Poles welcome refugees, the Polish anthem with lyrics altered by him is sung. A court imposed a fine on him for violating the provisions applicable to the use of the national emblem, the flag colours and the anthem of the Republic of Poland. The Commissioner has filed a cassation appeal with the Supreme Court against the penalty imposed on Mr Jan. (more)


Real property owners will be notified about the fact that their properties have been listed in the register of monuments of history. This is provided for in the draft regulation of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, to be issued in the fourth quarter of 2018. This has been Ministry’s reaction to the CHR’s  intervention concerning the rights of owners of properties listed in the register of monuments of history. (more)

Candidates seeking to become students of the National School of the Judiciary and Public Prosecutors may not be older than 35 (to study to become a judge or a prosecutor) or older than 40 (to become a judge or a prosecutor as a second specialization). This may violate the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination, expressed in Article 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and in the European law, has emphasized the Commissioner in his address to the Minister of Justice. (more)

People have problems with entering court buildings. At the entrance, they are requested to produce a letter requesting a given person to arrive to the court, or to indicate "the need to enter". Such violations of the principle of openness of court hearings are caused by internal regulations issued by court presidents and directors. The CHR has addressed the Minister of Justice with regard to the issue, stressing that the possibility to enter courts can be restricted solely based on the law. (more)

Journalists are required to produce an annual press pass to be able to enter the building of the District Court in Kraków with a camera, a microphone or a voice recording device. The Commissioner has considered this requirement groundless and has requested the court’s president and the court’ director to cancel the regulation. (more)


At the CHR Office, a farewell meeting of Marek Michalak, Children’s Ombudsman, was held. The Ombudsman whose term of office has ended was awarded the CHR’s honorary award for his achievements in the field of human rights protection. During the ceremony, Adam Bodnar presented “a decalogue”  of the leaving Ombudsman’s main implemented activities. (more)

The Code of Criminal Procedure was drawn up to meet the needs of the democratic state of law. It assumed, inter alia, the independence of the prosecutors’ offices and courts, as well as the supervision over the quality of legislation, exercised by the Constitutional Tribunal. Today, these principles are undermined. The omnipotence of the state is growing, judges are disciplined, and individuals often remain unprotected. These were the main points of Adam Bodnar’s speech during the convention of Universities’ Criminal Procedure Divisions, held in Białystok. (more)

The Commissioner gave a speech during the 52nd Congress of the European Bars Federation, held in Warsaw. In his speech, entitled The mystery of communication between a lawyer and a client in the digital era,  Adam Bodnar emphasized that such communication is not only a guarantee of complying with the law, but also a human right. (more)