Newsletter Commissioner for Human Rights in Poland 22- 26 October 2018


EMPLOYEE RIGHTS. The Commissioner alerted the Chief Labour Inspector about the redundancies of PLL LOT employees and requested him to check whether the company trade unions’ freedoms had not been violated. He also inquired the prosecutor's office whether it had taken any action with regard to the suspicion that law may have been violated. The labour court was asked for information on the company’s pre-court claims concerning pilots who refused to work and went on strike. (more)

SUFFRAGE. The Commissioner received complaints from persons who had no possibility to vote in the local elections on 21 October despite the fact that they had requested their inclusion in local electoral registers through the E-PUAP electronic system. The CHR has asked the Mayor of Warsaw about the number of persons who experienced the problem in the city. (more)

HATE SPEECH. The Commissioner requested the public prosecutor's office to commence a proceeding concerning the election-related TV spot of Law and Justice. In the opinion of the Commissioner, the spot had features that could be considered oriented against refugees and Muslims. The Commissioner wants the prosecutor's office to determine whether this has not been public incitement to hatred based on the grounds of nationality, ethnic origin or religion. (more)

TORTURE. The Commissioner has requested the Minister of Justice again to introduce, into the Polish law, the definition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The reason is the occurrence of further instances of torture at police stations. In August, during the visit of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture operating within the CHR Office, paid to the Police Headquarters in Ryki, the employees of the Mechanism revealed the case of a 70-year-old man whom a policeman hit during the interrogation. (more)

REPRIVATIZATION. The Supreme Administrative Court issued a ruling on land re-privatization in Michałowice near Warsaw; the ruling was positive for the residents. The court reversed the decision of the Minister of Agriculture of 2013 that cancelled the nationalization of the land in Michałowice, that took place in 1948, and the related judgment of the Provincial Administrative Court. This was in line with the postulates of the Commissioner who took a position to defend the acquired rights of people who made decisions concerning their properties for years. (more)

ONEROUS (AND ODOUR-GENERATING) FACILITY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS. Decisions permitting extension of animal breeding farms that are onerous for the inhabitants of the Września district have been cancelled. The Supreme Administrative Court upheld the verdict of the Provincial Administrative Court that there were no grounds for refusing the adoption of a zoning plan prohibiting the construction of such new farms. Both courts took into account the position of the CHR. Września already has some farms in the vicinity. The town residents complain of the related nuisance (odours, flies, rodents) and were against building the planned facilities. (more)

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES. The nursing allowance should also be paid to those carers of children with disabilities, who have retired earlier to take care of such a child. This is the position of the CHR presented to the Senate committee considering the petition on the issue. Today, such carers, as confirmed by courts, do not have the right to the nursing allowance that amounts to PLN 1477, although the lowest pension amounts only to over PLN 1,000. (more)

THE CHR AT THE CONGRESS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: If no method is found to mainstream, into the public debate, the issue of the rights of persons with disabilities and of enforcement of those rights, not much is going to change. There may be changes in some aspects of life but in general, the stage of “critical stagnation” will continue. (full text of the speech, including examples of violation of the rights of persons with disabilities)

COURTS. A judge may not be interrogated as a witness during explanatory activities carried out by judges’ representative for disciplinary matters, stated the CHR. He requested the judges’ representative for disciplinary matters to adjust the activities to the regulations when conducting such explanatory activities. The Commissioner also inquired why, during the questioning of judge Igor Tuleya, his lawyer was not allowed to participate. (more)

The CHR withdrew his application of 2016 from the Constitutional Tribunal. The application concerned the Act on Public Prosecutors which granted extensive powers to Prosecutor General. The adjudicating panel included a person not authorized to adjudicate in the Constitutional Tribunal, and the court composition was changed without a legal basis from the full-size one to five-person one, stated the Commissioner. This has been the fifth such withdrawal of an application by Adam Bodnar in the light of formerly challenged acts concerning the rights and freedoms of citizens. (more)

PERSONAL DATA. Someone took secret photos of the chief accountant of the Second World War Museum meeting with its former deputy director who resigned after the new team took over the positions. The accountant’s meeting became the basis for the museum director to seek termination of the employment contract with the accountant. Concerned about a possible violation of the right to privacy, the CHR asked the museum director whether he had received the photographs, and if so, on what legal basis. (more)

A head of a municipal government required a foundation to provide sensitive data under the regulations on access to public information. In reply to the Commissioner’s letter concerning the matter, the head of the government did not indicate the legal basis of his request and the purpose for which he required the data. The CHR asked the President of the Office for Personal Data Protection to look into the matter. (more)

FREEDOM OF SPEECH. The Commissioner found out from the media that the movie entitled "Kler" had not been shown in Ostrołęka, and asked the city authorities for explanations. The city mayor replied he did not prohibit anyone to watch the movie, although he stressed he had "clearly determined views concerning the influence of certain movies on people’s psychological condition and development, particularly of young and developing persons". (more)

The District Court in Kraków did not give up the system of accreditations for journalists. The Commissioner asked for giving up the system in connection, among others, with a risk to the freedom of the press. The court replied that the sole purpose of introducing the system was to make it easier for journalists to enter the court, and assured that the lack of the accreditation does not make it impossible to enter the court and freely perform one’s duties. (more)

COMPENSATION CLAIMS. Farmers complain that they do not receive compensation for farm losses caused by cranes and otters as they are protected animal species. At present, the State Treasury pays compensations only for damages caused by bisons, wolves, lynxes, bears and beavers. The CHR requested the minister responsible for the environment to apply to the Council of Ministers to extend the list of protected animals species that cause damages to farmers, for which damages the State Treasury pays compensations. (more)

People complain about problems with refunds of the costs of heating systems replacement with environmentally friendly ones. Subsidies from local governments are not due for installations already in place. The Commissioner requested the minister responsible for the environment to introduce relevant amendments to the law. (more)

The legislator should clarify the doubts related to the use of power transmission poles, gas pipelines and other transmission infrastructure located on private land, which use took place before 2008 i.e. before entry into force of the provisions on easement relating to the use of transmission infrastructure. Such preliminary judgment was issued by the Constitutional Tribunal. The CHR joined the case and pointed to the fact that the title to property was left without the constitutional protection. (more)

PERSONAL BANKRUPTCY If someone has declared personal bankruptcy and the person’s insolvency estate includes his/her retirement or disability pension, the Social Insurance Institution may pay as little as 825 PLN to the person, and the remaining amount is paid to the insolvency administrator if so demanded. This is the interpretation adopted by the Social Insurance Institution which, however, admitted in its reply to the Commissioner’s intervention that the regulations are not clear, and no clear jurisprudence in this area exists. (more)

Three judges instead of one are going to adjudicate on the placement in the Gostynin centre of a person who refuses to undergo treatment. This has been the Supreme Court’s ruling on the case of a man who initially was not referred to the centre but for whom the court ordered so-called preventive supervision and the requirement to undergo treatment. (more)

Municipalities can get subsidies from the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management for the removal of improperly stored waste. The subsidies cover up to 80% of the removal’s costs, provided that the waste is hazardous for people's health or life or may cause irreparable damage to the environment, and that its storage place is owned by the municipality or the state. This has been the Fund’s reply to the CHR’s statement that municipalities cannot afford closing down illegal landfills. (more)

An act of the Parliament should determine who should qualify patients with rare diseases for treatment under the new medication programmes, paid by the National Health Fund. Such preliminary judgment was issued by the Constitutional Tribunal after the examination of the CHR's application. At present, such decisions are taken by the coordination team appointed by the President of the National Health Fund, and are not subject to supervision. (more)

Persons whose ancestors were killed, for example, by the NKVD (the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Internal Affairs) wen fighting for the country’s independence in such a part of Poland’s territory which after World War II became a part of the USSR, have no right to the same compensation as persons whose ancestors have their graves in the territory of Poland. The CHR for a long time has had doubts about the issue in view of the constitutional principles of citizen's trust in the state, its laws and the principle of equality. The Commissioner applied to the Minister of Justice for changing the law. (more)

Women in Poland do not have real access to legal abortion, assessed the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. According to the Committee, it is necessary to implement statutory guarantees in this area. The Commissioner asked the Minister of Health and the Patients Ombudsman what is done to guarantee such access. (more)


Professor Adam Strzembosz has received the PONTIFICI ("The Bridge Builder") prize awarded by the Catholic Intellectuals Club in Warsaw. The prize winner still believes in our country’s better future, rule of law and independent courts , said Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar in the laudation. With such masters in joining people, we will repair old bridges and build new ones as democratic Poland’s solid foundation, added the CHR. (more)

Adam Bodnar met with Gunther Kirchbaum, chairman of the Committee on European Union Affairs of the German Bundestag and other members of the Committee. The meeting concerned the situation in Poland. A particularly important issue raised during the meeting was the current constitutional crisis and the introduction by the Court of Justice of the European Union of the provisional measure regarding the law on the Supreme Court. (more)

On Thursday afternoon several dozen people took part in a meeting with Supreme Court judge Stanisław Zabłocki and Prof. Mirosław Wyrzykowski. The meeting was organized by the CHR, the “NIKE” Association of Warsaw Appellate Judges, the Warsaw branch of the “Iustitia” Association of Polish Judges, the “Themis” Association of Judges, and the portal #WolneSądy [free courts]. The recording of the meeting is available here (more)