Commissioner for Human Rights

Newsletter 14th-20th March 2016

Tagi: Newsletter

Honorary Medal of the Commissioner for Maria Zoll-Czarnecka

The Commissioner for Human Rights, dr. Adam Bodnar, awarded the Honorary Medal “For Merit To Human Rights Protection” to the family of Maria Zoll-Czarnecka, who passed away on March 10th. The medal was given to the daughters of the laurate on March 17th, during the funeral ceremony in Warsaw. [more] 


Financial liability of participants in driving courses

The Commissioner's address to the Financial Ombudsman raises the issue of financial liability for the consequences of participants of supplementary driving courses under driver training for road incidents. The information provided by the SOS Foundation for responsible driving schools during the regional meeting in Szczecin shows that the formal registration requirements are not fully met in the case of nearly 67% supplementary courses. This may result in severe consequences for participants. [more] 

Competences of Communal and City Guards

The Commissioner requested the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration to provide information on courses for communal (city) guards with regard to compliance with and protection of human rights. The Commissioner has also asked for indication of existing solutions that protect citizens against abuse of powers by the guards. The issue of city guards' conduct was raised during a regional meeting in Kielce.  [more] 


Nursing benefit entitlement for a guardian of an adult

The voivodeship administrative court agreed with the Commissioner's position and repealed the decision to refuse a nursing benefit on the basis of a guardianship of a mother who was diagnosed severely disabled at the age of 51.[more]

Coal allowance entitlement

The Commissioner is addressed by retired and disabled coal miners who raise the issue that the payment of the coal allowance is treated differently depending on the coal mining company. The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Energy. [more] 

Female participation in public life

In spite of positive examples, women still participate in the public life to a small extent the Commissioner addressed the Government Plenipotentiary for Civil Society and Equal treatment and requested information on the planned measures in this regard. [more] 

FRA report on equal treatment of LGBTI persons

In certain EU Member States, physicians still see homosexuality as a medial condition and transsexuality as a mental disorder – it is one of the conclusions of a new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). [more] 


Publication of the decision of the Constitutional Tribunal of 9 March 2016

The Commissioner addressed the President of the Government Legislation Centre and requested the provision of grounds for not publishing the decision of the Constitutional Tribunal of 9th March 2016 (K 47/15) in the Journal of Laws and the legal grounds for the refusal to publish this decision. [more]

Donation in exchange for labour analgesia

In order to have labour analgesia applied, the plaintiff whose affair was addressed by the Commissioner had to sign a donation agreement with the hospital. Not prior to the labour, but during it, just before the analgesic was applied, when the pain was the strongest. In the Commissioner's opinion, the agreement is null and void because the woman could not take the decision freely. [more] 

Rights of parents of stillborn babies

Parents of stillborn babies are not provided proper aid by the state. As seen in the complaints received by the Commissioner, they can receive neither the funeral allowance nor the maternal allowance nor take advantage of the shortened maternal leave if a stillbirth of a child whose gender cannot be determined occurs. The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy yet another time. [more] 

Disabled child's home to school transport cost

The mayor did not want to reimburse disabled child's home to school transport cost, and the voivodeship administrative court rejected the mother's complaint. Thus, the Commissioner for Human Rights filed plea of nullity to the Supreme Administrative Court. [more]

Concerning principles of placement of incapacitated persons in nursing homes

The Council of Ministers agreed with the Commissioner's opinion presented in the motion to the Constitutional Tribunal filed in November. The Commissioner has indicated e.g. that a person with mental or intellectual disability who is represented by the guardian cannot question the decision of the guardianship court that consents to the placement of such person in a nursing home. [more] 

Concerning the regulations on CCTVs

Poland still lacks regulations on CCTVs. The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration once again. The Minister again replied by providing information on the ongoing analytical work. [more]

Submitting complaints against decisions of communal guards

The current regulations do not clearly state who is authorised to handle complaints against the decisions of communal guards concerning petty offences. The Commissioner for Human Rights addressed the Minister of Justice and requested to make regulations more precise. [more] 



Canvassing measures undertaken by various entities, including political parties, before the official commencement of the electoral campaign (so-called pre-campaigns) are not regulated by the law and take place without any control by election authorities. The Commissioner addressed the chair of the Standing Subcommittee for Amending Election Code and Code of Administrative Procedure of the Sejm. [more] 

National election observers

Representatives of social organisations who are not connected to any electoral committee may not observe the elections. The National Electoral Commission shares the Commissioner's view that the election law regulations need to be changed and the institution of national election observers not connected to any electoral committee should be established. [more] 


Prosecutors' disciplinary responsibility

The Law on Persecution Act excludes the persecutor's disciplinary responsibility for actions undertaken only in the public interest. Such a provision results in a risk of being construed broadly, which may lead to a persecutor evading responsibility even in case of a gross and obvious violation of the law. The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Justice and requested grounds for such amendment. [more] 

Concerning the procedure for recalling a judge from an off-site assignment

The Minister agreed with the Commissioner's position and announced the prospective amendments to regulations that the decision of the Minister of Justice to recall a judge from an off-site assignment is not subject to appeal. The regulations also include no premises that the Minister should follow while taking such decision. This may violate the checks and balances between powers, independence of courts and judges. [more] 

Concerning guarantees of the suspects' right to defence

The Minister of Justice announced an amendment to regulations that will allow a suspect e.g. to contact the attorney while arrested. This is a response to the commissioner's address concerning the status of a suspect in criminal proceedings. [more] 

Oral grounds for decisions in civil proceedings

The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Justice and requested an evaluation of regulations that allow oral grounds for decisions that have been present in civil proceedings for over a year. In the Commissioner's opinion, providing grounds for decision in an oral form should be restricted and a single form of transcript should be defined. Excessive use of the option to provide grounds for decisions orally may limit the constitutional right to reliable court procedure and the right to appeal against the decision of a court of first instance. [more] 

Concerning litigation fees in misdemeanour proceedings

The Minister of Justice responded to the Commissioner's address concerning charging auxiliary prosecutors' litigation fees in misdemeanour proceedings. This concerns proceedings that have been discontinued due to limitation. [more]


Concerning delays in payments to farmers

Numerous farmers have not received direct payments for 2015 yet. They can also obtain no unambiguous information on the date of payment from the Agency for Restructuring and Modernisation of Agriculture. In response to the Commissioner's address, the Minister of Agriculture announced e.g. that he has taken a number of measures aimed at accelerating the payment. [more]

Concerning breastfeeding Police officers

Breastfeeding Police officers do not have to submit medical certificates to take advantage of two additional breaks during the work – this is the position of the Plenipotentiary of the Commander-in-Chief of the Police for Human Rights Protection expressed in response to the Commissioner's address. [more] 

Judges' entitlement to a convalescence leave

The manner a judge's entitlement to paid convalescence leave is regulated needs to be amended. The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Justice in this regard. [more] 


Concerning the consequences of changes to pre-school and early school education

During the public hearing in December 2015, citizens pointed to issues resulting from the amendments to the Act on the education system that are important to them (the so-called withdrawal of the six-year-olds reform), e.g. probable problems with the youngest children's access to pre-school education. The Minister of National Education responded to the Commissioner's address. [more] 

Choice of educational facility for six-year-olds

The Commissioner has been approached by parents of six-year-olds who are to start their zero grades in the 2016/2017 school year, but there are no places for them in kindergartens. Many communes want these children to go to pre-school departments at a primary school. Yet – as it may be implied from press news – the Minister of National Education sent a letter to local governments which states that the choice of the educational facility is the parents' decision. The Commissioner requested the Minister to take a position in this regard. [more] 


Children's entitlement to maintenance

According to the BIG Info Monitor data of February 2016, there are 260 thousand people who evade paying maintenance, and the total maintenance debt amounts to PLN 8 billion. The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Justice and the Chair of the National Council of the Judiciary and requested more effective prosecution and judgement of people responsible for non-payment of child maintenance. [more] 

Recovering payments from maintenance debtors

The Commissioner addressed the President of the Supreme Audit Office and requested a national audit of efficiency of the recovery of payments from child maintenance fund. This would make actions of administrative bodies more efficient and result in more effective methods of debt recovery from maintenance debtors. [more] 


Unclear definition of a “building”

In the Commissioner's opinion, there is a need to develop a new, precise definition of a “building” which would meet the requirements set out by the Constitutional Tribunal for the purpose of levying the estate tax. Both entrepreneurs and tax authorities should be certain that a specific facility is subject to the tax. [more] 

Protection of debtors' rights

In their submission to the Commissioner, debtors complain about insufficient legal protection in enforcement proceedings. The most striking example is enforcement of minor debt against a house or a flat where the debtor or his family live. The value of the property that is sold sometimes exceeds the debt being enforced more than ten or even a few tens times. The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Justice in this regard. [more] 


Health care for the homeless

The regulations do not ensure the homeless or other people without income factual access to publicly funded health care. A visit to a physician is preceded by a strict and complicated procedure that is not adjusted to the problem of homelessness. The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Health in this regard. [more] 


The National Centre for the Prevention of Dissocial Behaviour

The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Justice and requested that the work on the amendment to the Act on procedures concerning persons with mental disorders who pose a threat to life, health or sexual freedom of others should commence urgently. [more] 

Health care for persons deprived of liberty

The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Justice once again and requested support for the establishment of an interministerial work team for the development of a Polish health care model for persons deprived of liberty. The Minister of Health has already expressed his willingness to cooperate. [more] 

Concerning the prisoners' access to public information

The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Justice and requested regulation of the prisoners' right to use the Public Information Bulletin websites. The Secretary of State in the Ministry agreed that the changes are necessary, but stated that the technical capacity needs to be analysed first. [more] 

Various crime prevention measures

The Ministry of Justice responded to the Commissioner's address concerning use of various crime prevention measures other than prison: since 1st July 2015 courts have decided to use security measures instead of prison with regard to 185 convicts. In the case of 126 of them, the courts ordered stay at a mental health facility. [more] 

Concerning the implementation of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights

How does Poland implement recommendations from the ECHR with regard to proceedings instituted at this court by Polish citizens? At the meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that took place on 16th March, representatives of ministries states what measures have been taken with regard to ECHR decisions concerning e.g. principles of placement in facilities for dangerous. [more] 

Use of phones by persons remanded in custody

According to the amendment to the Executive Penal Code, persons remanded in custody may contact not only their attorney but also families and other persons via telephone. However, a new ordinance of the Minister of Justice that would lay down the principles of using telephones has not been issues. The Commissioner requested the Minister to undertake such work urgently. [more] 

Prisoner's rights to privacy

The Commissioner addressed the General Director of the Prison Service with regard to hygienic and sanitary conditions of the custodial sentence. [more] 

Psychiatric care for persons deprived of liberty

As found by the Commissioner, there might be many intellectually and mentally disabled persons in prisons and custody suites. However, the prison health care system cannot provide proper care to a person who absolutely needs therapy in a mental hospital The Commissioner addressed the General Director of the Prison Service and the Vice-President of the Polish Psychiatric Society. [more]


Commissioner's meeting with representatives of legal professions in Szczecin

During a formal meeting with the representatives of legal professions in Szczecin, dr. Adam Bodnar spoke of the role of the Commissioner for Human Rights in the shaping of the legal order in Polish. The event was organised by representatives of the In Gremio periodical, which has been issued by representatives of courts, prosecutors' offices, and barristers', solicitors', notaries' and judicial enforcement officers' professional self-governments'. [more]

3rd Ombudsmen's Summit

The Commissioner for Human Rights, dr. Adam Bodnar, took part in the 3rd Summit of Ombudsmen from Eastern Partnership, West Balkan and V4 countries, which took place in the European Parliament in Brussels. The Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of Andrzej Grzyb MEP were co-organisers of the event. The European Omudsman, Emily O’Reilly, also took part in the meeting. [more] 

What does the Commissioner do? How are human rights protected?

Educational workshop for high school and university students took place in the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights. It primarily covered the issues concerning protection of human rights that are included e.g. in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. The young people discussed examples of cases related to violation of human rights and the equal treatment principle. [more] 

Amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure discussed in the Senate

The joint meeting of the Legislative Committee and the Committee for Human Rights, Rule of Law and Petitions took part in the Senate of the Republic of Poland, and representatives of the Commissioner for Human  Rights, dr. Marek Łukaszuk – the Director of the Department of Penal Law, and Valeri Vachev of the Department of Penal Law. The Commissioner's representatives presented comments concerning the proposed amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and certain other acts. [more] 

The Commissioner takes part in a debate on latest Polish reforms in Berlin

The Commissioner for Human Rights, dr. Adam Bodnar, took part in the debate entitled “How to Protect European Values – Assessing European Responses to Recent Reforms in Poland”, which took place in Berlin. The participants debated on the way of protecting European values, including the rule of the law. They also attempted to assess the reaction of the European institutions to the latest Polish reforms.

Anti-discrimination NGOs in court proceedings

The expert seminar entitled “Situation of anti-discrimination non-governmental organisations in court proceedings. Challenges” took part at the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, and the organisers were the Commissioner and the Polish Society of Anti-Discrimination Law. [more] 

Workshop concerning building and reinforcing the role of trade unions

Workshop for members of the intercompany organisation of security, catering and cleaning services employees of NSZZ “Solidarność” was held at the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights. The primary topic was building and reinforcing the role of trade unions in the struggle for workers' rights. The Commissioner, dr. Adam Bodnar, attended the meeting with the participants. [more] 

Meeting of the Expert Commission for Elderly People

Inspections of the National Preventive Mechanism at nursing homes, experience in providing community support, and the adoption of the new Convention on the Rights of Older Persons were the primary topics of the meeting of the Expert Commission for Elderly People held on 14th March 2016, at the office of the Commissioner for Human Rights. [more]