Godło RP

Newsletter Commissioner for Human Rights in Poland 22 - 28 November 2016

Newsletter 22-28 November 2016

MAIN MATTERS

Adam Bodnar on civil society

- Civil society does not need the National Centre for Civil Society. The country should simply create a framework for the development of NGOs, said Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar on the TOK FM radio on 23 November, after the government had announced its intention to undertake work on the Centre project [more].

Mr Bodnar emphasized that some NGOs carry out tasks which arise from their cooperation with the state (local governments/ the national government) but do it following competition procedures. Any institution contracting its tasks to an NGO has the right and the obligation to control the way in which public funds allocated to the tasks are spent. This system, as stressed by Adam Bodnar, has been working well for years, without being centralized under a single governmental institution.

He noted that if everything becomes subject to the supervision by an institution established within the structures of the Prime Minister’s Office, concerns may be raised about political independence. - We are behaving as if we were inventing a wheel but the relationships between the executive authorities and non-governmental organizations are well-known around the world, he emphasized.  He also reminded of the recently issued OSCE Guidelines on Freedom of Association.

LEGISLATION

The CHR’s comments on the legal aspects of exhumations

- The law may not eliminate the possibility of appealing to a court in the case a relative believes that the exhumation required by a prosecutor would violate the cult of the deceased person. An opposite approach to the issue would mean that the Constitution has ceased to be the supreme source of law in Poland, emphasized the CHR in a law-related discussion concerning the rights of the families of the Smolensk disaster victims. The families not convinced as to the necessity of the exhumations, based on the reasons indicated by the prosecutor, are trying to assert their rights in courts. The CHR arguments may be used there [more].

The CHR’s position on the government’s report on the implementation of the Act on Family Planning, Protection of Human Foetuses and Permissibility of Abortion

In Poland, since this autumn there has been an on-going debate on the legislative approach to abortion. According to the Act of 1993, termination of pregnancy is permitted in only three types of situations. The government is under the obligation to present annual reports on the issue to the Sejm in order to identify problems and increase the chances for achieving the objectives set out in the Act. In the Commissioner's view, the weakest points of this year's report are that it contains no specific relevant information on the access to sex education, contraception, counselling and support for women and families, that the report statistics are not covered by any analysis and that no conclusions and suggestions have been included [more].

Prior to the Senate meeting, the CHR warns against the consequences of the failure to implement the Constitutional Tribunal’s judgement on the income tax threshold

During the legislative works on the new act on the income tax threshold, carried out by the Parliament, the CHR reminded that one year ago the Constitutional Tribunal considered the regulations on the income tax threshold unconstitutional as they failed to take into account the situation of persons in a difficult financial position. The regulations expire on 30 November. The government wanted to extend their validity by one year. The CHR pointed out that in such a case, citizens will have the right to pursue their claims before the courts [more].

The Constitutional Tribunal on the so-called “Act on beasts”

The Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that the act on proceedings against mentally disturbed persons who pose a threat to the life, health or sexual liberty of other persons is consistent with the Constitution. Only one of its challenged provisions, relating to psychiatric consultations and indicated by the CHR, has been declared unconstitutional. As regards the procedure carried out every six months to determine whether the patient’s stay at the Centre for the Prevention of Dissocial Behaviours should be continued, the questioned provision does not ensure sufficient guarantees as it provides for a psychiatrist consultation only, but the decision on the placement at the Centre should be taken by the court based on consultations with a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a sexologist [more].

The Constitutional Tribunal on the prohibition to enter into marriage

The Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that the relative prohibition to enter into marriage, relating to persons with psychotic disorders or mental retardation, is consistent with the Constitution [more].

The Ministry of the Environment is working on the implementation of anti-odour legislation – a breakthrough after 10 years, thanks to the Commissioner’s efforts?

In response to the CHR’s letter, the Chief Inspector for Environmental Protection informed that the Ministry of the Environment is working on a draft act on the prevention of odour nuisance [more].

Insufficient legal protection of whistleblowers in the uniformed services

The Ministry of Justice is considering a change of the legislation to strengthen the role of whistleblowers with regard to civil servants. The Commissioner has requested the prime minister for information on the protection of the rights of whistleblowers in the uniformed services [more].

To whom may a citizen file a complaint relating to inaction of public authorities?

The Commissioner has turned to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Human Rights with regard to the lack of control by judicial and administrative authorities over complaints relating to inaction of judicial or administrative bodies [more].

Tennant problems related to evictions in Warsaw

Adam Bodnar has talked to employees of and persons cooperating with Kancelaria Sprawiedliwości Społecznej [the Social Justice Office], an organization which provides legal advice and support to persons at risk of eviction, who are unemployed or have problems with paying electricity bills, water bills and rent [more].

EQUAL TREATMENT

The future of the National Action Plan for Equal Treatment - Minister Adam Lipinski forwards a reply to the CHR

- The Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment has not taken and has no plans to take any steps which would result in the annulment of the obligation to develop the National Action Plan for Equal Treatment, wrote Adam Lipinski wrote in his reply to the CHR’s letter. He stressed that the programme will be continued in the next years [more].

16 days of activities against gender-based violence

25 November was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The CHR issued a special statement on that occasion. The CHR’s deputy talked about the problem with educators [more].

THE COMMISSIONER ON CITIZENS’ ISSUES

The CHR on the Polskie Radio’s journalists dismissed from work

The CHR’s positions are available here: [more] [more].

Effects of the CHR’s intervention: Ms Joanna’s 5-year old daughter will stay with her mother

The court withheld the implementation of its ruling after the Commissioner for Human Rights’ last week intervention in the case of the disabled woman from the city of Zielona Gora [more].

The case of Mr. Tomasz: the Senate Committee on Human Rights supports the restoration of the right to disability pension of victims of accidents who have lost the pension due to the fact that the guaranteed amount has been exceeded [more].

A postman may not inspect people’s homes to check if they have radio or TV sets

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Construction has confirmed the CHR’s doubts as to the postmen’s right to inspect private dwellings [more].

Telecommunications data protection and powers of the Financial Supervision Authority

The CHR was concerned by the powers of the Chairman of the Financial Supervision Authority to request telecommunications service providers to submit information which constitutes a telecommunications secret [more].

THE CHRONICLE

RPO takes part in the Human Dimension Seminar

The Commissioner for Human Rights took part in the OSCE seminar entitled „Promoting effective and integral justice systems: how to ensure the independence and quality of the judiciary” [more].

XII National Congress of the Bar

Deputy CHR Stanisław Trociuk took part in the XII National Congress of the Bar in Kraków [more].

A visit of representatives of Portugal’s Supreme Council of Magistracy

Adam Bodnar hosted a delegation of Portugal’s Supreme Council of Magistracy, headed by the Council’s Deputy President Dr Mário Belo Morgando, which visited the CHR Office [more].

On ombudsmen’s independence

Adam Bodnar took part in the expert meetings on strengthening the independence of national human rights institutions in the OSCE region [more]. The series of the meetings started on 29 November [more].

A visit of lawyers and human rights defenders from Belarus

The CHR met with a delegation of lawyers and human rights defenders from Belarus, during their study visit to Poland. The meeting was held on the initiative of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights [more].

3rd Regional Debate of the National Preventive Mechanism

- We want to talk about methods of preventing inhuman treatment of persons deprived of liberty, about best practices in this area and about how to ensure the largest number of such practices, said deputy CHR Krzysztof Olkowicz in his opening speech at the Third Regional Debate of the National Preventive Mechanism, held in Lublin [more]