Newsletter Commissioner for Human Rights in Poland 18-22 March 2019
SYSTEM OF JUSTICE
- The Court of Justice of the European Union examined the questions for preliminary ruling, submitted by the Supreme Court and concerning e.g. the capacity of the new National Council of the Judiciary to perform its constitutional duty to safeguard the independence of courts. (more)
- The Polish government reduces the scope of judicial independence, stated the US Department of State in a report on the observance of human rights across the world. The American report points to many problems that are within the scope of the Commissioner's attention and actions. (more)
- The objections to the disciplinary measures mean support for the judges’ wrongful conduct, replied Piotr Schab, head of the judges’ disciplinary court, to the CHR’s letter of intervention regarding judges Monika Frąckowiak and Olimpia Barańska-Małuszek. (more)
- Court witnesses receive too low salary compensations for testifying in courts. The CHR calls for an increase. (more)
- Commentary of a police officer’s wife o a letter of Mrs. Katarzyna Zybertowicz.
CHILDREN AND THE FAMILY
- A 9-year-old boy born without hands will soon undergo surgery. After the operation he will need a special wheelchair that costs 18 thousand zł. Therefore, his mother applied to the NFZ Helath Fund in Katowice for a refund. According to media reports, an official of the NFZ stated that the boy is not entitled to the refund as he has no paresis or paralysis of three or four limbs. (more)
- In the last 30 years, over 200 children got HIV infection from their mothers. They were not sufficiently protected against the infection during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding because mothers simply did not know they were infected. The Commissioner called on the Minister of Health to improve the care for such children. (more)
- The LGBT+ declaration adopted in Warsaw will help protect children against sexual abuse, hate and discrimination, replied the CHR to the new Ombudsman for Children. (more)
- Civil registrars have problems with complying with the Supreme Administrative Court's judgment on entering, into the civil status registers, of foreign birth certificates including data of same-sex parents. The CHR is concerned that the Ministry of the Interior and Administration is not looking for a solution to the issue. (more)
- Children suspected and accused of committing a crime should understand the course of the criminal proceedings against them, have the right of access to a lawyer since the time of their detention, and to the presence of a parent during the trial. These standards arise from the Directive 2016/800of the European Parliament and of the Council to be implemented by Member States by 11 June 2019. (more)
STUDENTS AND UNIVERSITIES
- The Minister of Science and Higher Education: certificates issued by parish priests do not discriminate students. Such certificates are required by the College of Social and Media Culture in Toruń in a postgraduate course. Although it is co-funded by the National Bank of Poland, the whole system works in accordance with the law, explained the Minister in response to the CHR's doubts. (more)
- The Minister of Science and Higher Education has also doubts regarding lifelong employment contracts between universities and judges of the Constitutional Tribunal, the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, according to his reply to the CHR’s letter of intervention. (more)
- The National Broadcasting Council sees no reasons for initiating a proceeding concerning the TVP’s material containing images of persons demonstration against Magdalena Ogórek in front of the TVP building. (more)
One week ago, the Commissioner returned from a four-day trip to the Wielkopolska region of Poland. What problems did people raise there?
Problems in the field of environmental protection: smog, noise coming from motorways, odours from animal breeding farms, or illegal landfills were mentioned in each of the meetings. Also, the town of Śrem is negotiating with the city of Poznań to maintain bus connections with the region’s capital despite the closure of the PKS Poznań regional bus company. If the negotiations fail, 1800 cars will drive to Poznań every day only from Śrem itself. Śrem has launched free-of-charge buses in the town (because, in general, this is of benefit for it) and encourages public officials to go to work by their “business bicycles” (and to wear cycling helmets). The town of Szamotuły has an excellent railway connection with Poznań but people who live in new houses around the town have to use their cars to get to the city. Persons who have solved the transport problem themselves complain that at present, a driving license can be easily taken away from people and without it it is impossible to get anywhere. Poznań residents complain that the local government does not allocate enough money to the fight against smog. In Ostrów Wielkopolski, people are concerned with the increase of the permitted noise levels, and suspect this is a way of saving money on noise-absorbing screens.
A truly difficult problem was mentioned in the meeting in Śrem: in the village of Pysząca there is an illegal landfill. The owner has disappeared, the local government cannot afford the waste utilization, and the pollutants leak to the soil and waters.
Another problem is the ZUS social insurance company’s practice that concerns miners from the brown coal mines in Turek and Konin. They seek early retirement pensions but ZUS claims they did not work as miners.
The meeting participants were also active people with disabilities and carers of such people. The support for people with disabilities is organized in an uncoordinated way. This shows that the guarantees contained in Article 69 of the Constitution are not approached systemically by the state. In Konin, the town authorities ensure that all construction projects, even concerning road crossings for pedestrians, ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities or parents with children in pushchairs. The authorities are aware that accessibility is costly but do not save on civilization standards. In the town of Nowy Tomyśl, mothers of adults with disabilities shared with the CHR their concern that their children are isolated in the homes, and their fear about the children’s future after the mothers die.
It was evident that the miners were aware their RIGHTS might be violated. The carers (mainly female ones) of people with disabilities only asked for ASSISTANCE because they did not perceive their situations from the perspective of violation of their RIGHTS.
Excellent local initiatives were also mentioned. Note should be taken of the initiative in Śrem where a programme for seniors who live by themselves was launched. They may change their larger-size council flats to small-size ones that are more modern and fully adapted to the needs of persons with reduced mobility.
To the end, it should be noted that a topic that was NOT mentioned in the meetings (although it is still present on the main media) was the LGBT+ card from Warsaw. At the same time, questions handed over on pieces of paper (mainly by young people) related to discrimination, the fight against hate speech, and respect for the rights of minorities or people who do not share the majority’s opinions.