Newsletter on key activities of the Commissioner for Human Rights 14– 18 October 2019
THE COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABSTAINS FROM ACCEPTING THE ROLAND BERGER FOUNDATION’S AWARD: The CHR
THE 2019 EDITION OF THE PAWEŁ WŁODKOWIC AWARD GRANTED BY THE CHR
Danuta Przywara, President of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, well-known activist and animator has received the Paweł Włodkowic award granted by the CHR for safeguarding key values and principles, even against the opinion of the majority. The award is granted by a jury composed of the current and all Commissioners for Human Rights and the Noble prize winners. (more)
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND ONEROUS CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
- The CHR’s meeting with the inhabitants of Lubliniec
The town of Lubliniec is facing a growing problem of construction projects that are onerous for its residents. A local housing district with single-family houses had been bordering the local Economic Development Zone for many years. However, five years ago an industrial plant was built there, which, according to the residents, generates smoke, dust, noise and odours. The plant is a cullet processing facility.
The meeting with the CHR demonstrated that the process of issuing decisions on onerous construction projects, and of supervising their implementation, is poorly organized. The complicated system of mutual dependencies between various institutions makes it impossible for people to effectively submit complaints regarding such projects.
It also turned out that by now, local residents know more about the system of glass processing and waste recycling than the institutions responsible for supervising the process.
The meeting with the Commissioner demonstrated that it helps to hold talks : the mayor and a representative of the head of the powiat [i.e. county] spoke to the residents about the actions currently taken with regard to the onerous plant. A police representative explained what information the police needs to take intervention concerning the glass waste and noise in the public space.
At the end of the meeting the Commissioner spoke about what he can do thanks to information received from people. (full)
- The Sejm cancelled the planned works on the members’ bill on mining, which was to facilitate coal mine construction and reduce local governments’ impact on that. Before, the Commissioner wrote to the Speaker of the Sejm that the bill contained too many errors to be proceeded hastily. It was also criticized by many communities. (more)
COURTS AND THE SYSTEM OF JUSTICE
- Mr Jan sang the national anthem in public, changing its text into an invitation for refugees to arrive to Poland. Two courts classified this to be an offense because the anthem's words may not be changed, irrespective of the purpose. The defendant had positive intentions which deserved approval, concluded the Supreme Court and acquitted the man. (more)
- A court submitted to the Constitutional Tribunal a question of law relating to the regulations on lessees of state-owned land. In the Commissioner's view, they violate the constitutional principles of trust in the state and its laws, and of equal protection of property rights. (more)
- In the communist era, Ms Anna was fined because of holding a meeting of Jehovah's witnesses in her apartment. In 1970 she was found guilty of holding an "illegal assembly". She could not pay the fine so she spent several months in prison. The Commissioner applied for deleting the judgment concerning the woman who was penalized only for being a member of the organization against which, at that time, actions were taken. (more)
- Following the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights relating to Poland, the system of penalties for order violation in courts requires urgent change, indicates the Commissioner. However, the Minister of Justice has not replied whether he has taken any steps in this field. (more)
- The UN Committee has recently reminded of the need to implement the European directive which guarantees a real right to defense. It should have been introduced into Polish law by 2016, as repeatedly pointed out by the Commissioner. However, the Ministry of Justice concluded that the Polish regulations are in line with the directive so no changes are needed. (more)
- Seizure by the state of a car driven by a drunk driver is not possible, ruled the Supreme Court. It took into account the cassation appeal of the Commissioner, concerning a citizen repeatedly convicted for drunk driving, who also had been prohibited by a court to drive cars. (more)
- The CHR’s survey indicates a very large scale of sexual harassment among students in Poland: nearly half of the surveyed female students and one third of male students have experienced harassment. The report on the survey has been forwarded by the Commissioner to the Association of Rectors of Polish Academic Establishments and to the ministers of: Science and Higher Education, National Defense, Health, Culture and National Heritage, and Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation. (more)
- Reported adverse effects of the individual teaching reform have raised the concern of the Commissioner. In September, he asked the Ministry of National Education to assess the effects of the changes. In response, the ministry lists the actions taken and conclusions from the audit. He emphasizes that a student's disability is not a reason for individual teaching. (more)
WORK AND SOCIAL SECURITY
- A Ukrainian actor who worked, among others, in a pizzeria in Poznań was beaten by his employer when he demanded his overdue pay, reported the media. The Commissioner is looking into the matter ex officio. He has requested the Labour Inspectorate to examine the employer’s compliance with the law in the employment relationship and the payment of the due remuneration. The CHR will also inquire the police and the prosecutor's office about their actions regarding the case. (more)
- Not all retirees know that if the retirement application is submitted in June, the benefit is lower. Courts have concluded that such a "legal trap" can lead to unacceptable inequality of the rules of calculating the retirement pension value, stated the Commissioner in his subsequent letter of intervention regarding the issue. (more)
- There are no ongoing works on establishing the Council on Infertility Treatment, replied the Ministry of Health to the Commissioner who was concerned about creating the Council, as such obligation arises from the Act of 2015 on Infertility Treatment. (more)
- Telewizja Polska refused to broadcast a TV spot of the Regional Physicians’ Association, which constituted a part of the campaign entitled 'Poland is a sick country', which was considered inconsistent with TVP S.A's programme profile. The Association’s campaign might, however, have contributed to TVP’s public mission with which the programming profile has to comply, indicated the CHR. The refusal limited the constitutional principle of freedom of expression and of dissemination of information among citizens. (more)
- Has the State Electoral Commission received complaints regarding the presentation by public broadcasters of the election campaigns to the Sejm and Senate? The CHR inquired the chairman of the Commission because the National Broadcasting Council did not conduct regular monitoring, and there were accusations that the public television was not impartial in those election campaigns. (more)
- The Commissioner for Human Rights received the Outstanding Personality Award granted by the National Association of Third Age Universities. The Award has been earned by the efforts of many people working for the Office of the Commissioner since the beginning of its operation, emphasized CHR Adam Bodnar. (more)
- The Commissioner for Human Rights is an official, not a member of any party, his job is to seek the observance of human rights and he is elected by the Sejm with the consent of the Senate - i.e. by our representatives whom we elected two days ago, said Adam Bodnar opening his meeting with young people in Lubliniec. (more)
- The CHR Office organized the showing of the movie entitled "The Archer" for Mr. Krzysztof who asked for it at the regional meeting in Lubliniec in 2018. The film shows the life of children with disabilities, and how their strong will to counteract obstacles , supported by good doctors and guardians, can bring success. (more)
- Over ten years ago, the Precedent Cases Programme of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights focused on the need to seriously approach the Constitution. After 2015, this need has been reborn, said Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar in a Warsaw conference on the 15th anniversary of the programme (of which he was the first coordinator). (more)
- The UN Regional Human Rights Office organized a conference entitle Protecting social space in the European Union. It was attended by activists of European non-governmental organizations and representatives of international entities. The Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights was represented by Hanna Machińska, Deputy CHR. (more)