Commissioner for Human Rights

Newsletter 16-23 May 2016

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Newsletter 16 – 23 May 2016


Paweł Włodkowic Award for prof. Thomas Buergenthal

The winner of Paweł Włodkowic Award of the Commissioner for Human Rights for 2015 was prof. Thomas Buergenthal. During the ceremony that was conducted in the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews POLIN on 23 May the award was given to the winner by Adam Bodnar, a laudation was delivered by prof. Zdzisław Kędzia from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. - Biography of Professor reminds us why it is worth dealing with human rights - said Adam Bodnar during the ceremony. - It is a great honor to be able to award the person who has done so much due to the fact that he went through so much [more].


Adam Bodnar on the Day of Judiciary

- On the occasion of the Day of Judiciary I give the best wishes to all who every day take part in the system of justice administration: judges, prosecutors, lawyers, advocates, legal advisors, notaries, probation officers, court clerks. To all of those who work every day to implement Article 45 of the Constitution - that the courts are independent, that the judges are independent, and all participants of judiciary have decent working conditions. This was the message posted on 23 May  on Youtube by the Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar [more].

Opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights on the draft Counter-terrorism Law

The Commissioner for Human Rights transferred to the Marshal of the Sejm opinion on the draft anti-terrorist operations law. Opinion of the Commissioner was established after public consultation, to which Adam Bodnar invited all those interested in the subject. The Commissioner pointed out in the opinion that he does not criticize the idea of ​​organizing the powers of the services, because this may affect the reduction of crime and increase the sense of security of the citizens. However, the idea of combating terrorism must not mean an unjustified and disproportionate interference with the human rights and freedoms [more].

Commissioner for Human Rights asks for details of the illegal acts or omissions of special services in the years 2007-15

The Commissioner for Human Rights was greatly concerned receiving information contained in the speech of the Minister Mariusz Kamiński during the session of the Sejm on 11 May 2016, concerning the wide range of surveillance of various social groups and individuals in the years 2007-2015 by the special services, and omissions to act in cases when it was essential. The Commissioner asked Minister Kaminski to provide further details relating to specific cases of unlawful acts and omissions of the special services [more].

The right of children to maintenance - joint appeal of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Commissioner for Children Rights

The Commissioner for Human Rights and the Commissioner for Children Rights in joint appeal to the Minister of Family once again draw attention to the problem of helping children entitled to the maintenance. The level of debt toward the persons entitled to maintenance amounts to about PLN 10 billion and the number of parents who do not pay for their children equals to 300 thousand of people. According to the Commissioners, it is necessary to conduct a nationwide social campaign which will change the social attitudes and will help to realize the children's rights to maintenance [more].

The Commissioner took ex officio the case of the man who died at Wrocław police station

The Commissioner took ex officio the case concerning the death of Igor S., 25-year-old who died on 15 May at the police station in Wrocław. The man tens of minutes earlier was struck with the stun gun by the police officers. The Commissioner asked among others to provide relevant information and explanations to the Prosecutor's Office in Legnica and Provincial Police Commander in Wrocław.

Officials’ right to express their opinions

After a group of Law and Justice deputies asked the Commissioner to "explore the validity of prohibition imposed on the Director of the Jurisprudence and Studies Team of the Office of the Constitutional Tribunal [Kamil Zaradkiewicz] in respect of speaking in the public media and the proposal to resign from his current function, from the point of view of the compatibility of these actions with the standards of protection of human rights arising from the Constitution, acts of law and the European Convention on Human Rights", the Commissioner has taken the case and examines the issue of the right of officials to express their opinions [more].

Right to have a rest during holidays

Prohibition to work during holidays in retail outlets should include not only workers (persons employed on the basis of employment agreements), but also those who work on the basis of civil law contracts and those self-employed, if they perform work in conditions similar to the employment relationship. Constitutional right to holiday concerns not only employees under the labour code, but also other persons performing paid work. The Commissioner requested the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy to amend the provisions of law appropriately [more].

Opinions in family cases

Instead of family diagnostic and consultation centres there appeared consultation teams of the court specialists operating in the district courts under the supervision of the Minister of Justice. The new law does not specify the organization or working methods of the teams. This raises concerns of citizens, who indicate the problems arising in the course of the court proceedings in family cases. The Commissioner referred the matter to the Minister of Justice [more].

The rights of the poorest tenants

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Construction realizes the problem reported by the Commissioner of insufficient protection of the rights of the poorest tenants. This should include among others those waiting for the social premises, granted to them by the courts in the eviction judgments, from which the municipalities demand the return of compensation paid to the owners of tenement and debtors evicted to the shelter or the night shelters because the municipality within 6 months did not provide them with temporary facilities. In response to three of statements of the Commissioner provided among others after the regional meetings in Poznań, the Minister undertakes to work on changing the law to protect better those who are the most vulnerable [more].

500 plus programme and the protection of personal data

Commissioner for Human Rights notes with satisfaction the legal and financial solutions that support the families. Some of the solutions adopted in the law introducing Family 500 plus programme have raised doubts from the point of view of protection of privacy and personal data. The legislative process also rises reservations of the Commissioner, and especially the lack of consultation with the Inspector General for Personal Data. The Commissioner addressed the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy to solve the issue [more].

Unclear procedure of entry into the register of voters

The procedure for entry in the register of voters does not take into account the specific situation of persons without the registered place of residence, but residing permanently within the territory of  the municipality. Unclear provisions are interpreted in an inconsistent manner, the practice of their application varies as well. Problems with the participation in the voting are reported to the Commissioner also by the citizens of the European Union who are not the Polish citizens, registered for the permanent residence in Poland and the Polish citizens permanently residing within the territory of the municipality, but registered for the permanent residence in another town. The Commissioner reported these issues to the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission [more].

Controls in the public benefit organizations

Minister empowered to conduct controls of the public benefit organizations does not issue the decision, which the organization would appeal to the administrative court. The inspecting body prepares only the follow-up statement, indicating weaknesses and setting deadline for their removal. If the organization does not remove these deficiencies, the inspecting body may even apply to the district court for the removal of a public benefit organization from the National Court Register. This solution deprives the organizations the right to sue. The Commissioner reported this issue to the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy [more].

Common professional association of physicians and dentists

The Commissioner requested the Minister of Health to assess whether dentists are properly represented in the professional association which they joint with the physicians. In the complaints to the Commissioner dentists indicate that decisions about who will represent their occupational group in the local government bodies are taken in the vast majority by physicians [more].


Hiring foreign doctors from outside the EU

The Commissioner in a speech to the Minister of Health drew attention to the difficulties of recruiting foreign doctors from outside of the EU, while in Poland there are not enough specialists, which translates into obstacles for patients to access treatment. In response, the Minister presented the measures taken to diagnose and solve the problems of the Polish system of training of doctors and dentists [more].

The problems of addicts

 "Injecting users of psychoactive substances – identification of problems and needs on the basis of the example of five Polish cities: Warsaw, Cracow, Gdańsk, Poznań and Lublin" is the title of a research report conducted by Magdalena Bartnik – the President of Fundacja Redukcji Szkód foundation, Agata Kwiatkowska from Fundacja Edukacji Społecznej foundation and Agnieszka Karlińska from the Institute of Sociology of the University of Warsaw. During the meeting in Helsinki Human Rights Foundation the most important conclusions and recommendations contained in this paper were presented [more].

Young people's access to the gynecological treatment

Representatives of non-governmental organizations indicate the need for changes in the legal framework of the access of minor patients to gynecological treatment. In connection with the incoming signals in this case, the Commissioner asked for the opinion the Commissioner for Patient Rights, the Commissioner for Children Rights and the National Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology. The reply has been already received [more].

Medical Marijuana – the Commissioner’s message to the participants of "Cannabis in Theory and Practice" conference

Why is it worth talking about medical marijuana? At the conference: "Cannabis in Theory and Practice: science, medicine, law" which was held on May 21 in Wrocław at the initiative of Krok po Kroku foundation, Adam Bodnar sent his statement to participants [available on Youtube].


Mediation on the transfer of several Roma families from Limanowa

In another statement to the Provincial governor of Malopolska region on mediation in respect of the transfer of Roma families from Limanowa to new property purchased by Limanowa self-government in Człuchów, the Commissioner is asking for an urgent transfer of detailed information about the current state of affairs [more].

Cases of attacks on foreign students

The Commissioner will monitor the proceedings in cases of attacks on foreign students in Bydgoszcz and beatings Chechnya women in Łomża. These events occurred in early May. In both cases, media reports suggest that the perpetrators could be guided by national, ethnic or religious hatred [more].

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Persecution of LGBT students, recognition by doctors homosexuality as a disease, the refusal to issue identity documents to the children of the same sex couples born abroad, attacks on the headquarters of NGOs working for LGBT people are only some of the issues that the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights received in 2015 and 2016 – wrote Adam Bodnar in a statement issued on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia [more].

Combating hate speech online

Both the scale of hate speech on the Internet, as well as the specifics of this phenomenon make the standard legal instruments often ineffective. The statements contained in the websites are often anonymous, making the legal protection of victims difficult. The Commissioner in his address to the Minister of Justice proposes the introduction to a civil procedure a new solution, called a blind lawsuit, which will allow for combating hate speech in a systemic manner, while ensuring appropriate guarantees for the protection of freedom of speech. Then the court, not the victim would establish personal data of the author of the entry on the Internet [more].

Commissioner on the situation of carers of adults with disabilities

According to the media, carers of adults with disabilities intend to send in the protest to the head of the government spoons as a symbol of poverty in which live most of families of persons with disabilities. This group is still without adequate support from the state. The Commissioner has repeatedly pointed out that the situation requires urgent intervention of the legislator and the execution of judgments of the Constitutional Tribunal in this area [more].

Robert Biedroń with a visit to the Commissioner for Human Rights

The Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar met with the President of Słupsk Robert Biedroń. The talks concerned, among others, the issue of equal treatment and prevention of all forms of discrimination. The challenges faced by local authorities in connection with the performance of public tasks and the need to ensure adequate protection of rights of individual were also discussed [more].

"Transsexuality in life and in the law" - meeting with Sylvia Spurek

Ambassadors of the Commissioner for Human Rights at the University of Warsaw and the Scientific Circle Lex&Sex organized on 16 May the meeting "About transsexuality in life and in the law". Deputy Commissioner for equal treatment, Sylwia Spurek talked about dramas of transgender people and how the Polish law treats them. She also answered the questions of the young lawyers. Then the Polish documentary film "Mów mi Marianna" was screened [more].


Golden Book of the Best Practices - we are waiting for applications till  30 June

Till 30 June we are waiting for proposals of the best practices in the second edition of the Golden Book of the Best Practices for the Social Participation of Older Persons. Last year, the entry into the Golden Book was awarded to 24 particularly valuable initiatives submitted by social organizations and local governments. The information on winning projects can be found, among others, on the Commissioner for Human Rights website [more].

The rights of the elderly at the meeting of the National Development Council

 "Social policy after a quarter of century of changes: solidarity, social investment, joint responsibility" - the motto of the sixth meeting of the National Development Council, which was held in the Presidential Palace on 19 May. Deputy Commissioner for Human Rights for equal treatment, Sylwia Spurek participated in the meeting [more].

Age limits for officers of the Government Protection Bureau

The officer of the Government Protection Bureau departs from service when they reach a certain age (for non-commissioned officer, warrant officer and junior officer - 55 years, a senior officer - 58 years, general - 60 years). The solution adopted in the Law on Government Protection Bureau may lead to discrimination against the Government Protection Bureau officers because of their age. The Commissioner asked the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration to amend the regulations appropriately [more].


The effect of the meeting in Suwałki: Visit of the primary school from Raczki at the National Stadium and Copernicus Science Center

On 18 May primary school children from Raczki visited the National Stadium in Warsaw and the Copernicus Science Centre. The visit was the result of the January regional meeting in Suwałki, when we were talking among others, about issues of people with disabilities, and Ms. Anita Raczek, a deaf mother of three hearing children told us about her life and troubles making a huge impression on the gathered Suwalszczna dwellers. We met then the whole family and got acquainted with the children's dreams, that is why the Office of the Commissioner helped to organize the trip [more].

Adam Bodnar’s meetings in Olsztyn and Iława

The Commissioner Adam Bodnar met with non-governmental organizations in Olsztyn and Iława. The talks concerned, among others, the issue of free legal aid, domestic violence, employment of people with disabilities and access to treatment. There were also topics of general political and social situation. - All the problems mentioned here are important, but what about the overall situation. The fact of ceasing to respect each other? The difficult situation in the country? - asked the participants [more].

The Commissioner at the University of Warmia and Mazury

During a visit to Olsztyn the Commissioner visited the University of Warmia and Mazury. Adam Bodnar laid flowers at the monument dedicated to all buried in Kortowo: patients from a psychiatric hospital, including victims of Nazi experiments and planned euthanasia, as well as all the patients and physicians who were murdered by Red Army soldiers entering Olsztyn [more].

Adam Bodnar at Maróz 2016 meeting

More than 400 people working in non-governmental organizations from rural areas met by Maróz lake near Olsztynek for already 15th time. The meetings are organized by the Rural Development Foundation, Polish-American Freedom Foundation and Nidzica Development Foundation NIDA. The Commissioner took part in the first day of this year's meeting [more].

II Lower Silesia Civic Congress in Krzyżowa

What is the role of social workers in the future? – this was one of the topics discussed by the participants of the II Lower Silesia Civic Congress, which took place in Krzyżowa. It's the biggest event of the civil sector in the region and the largest gathering of socially active people. The Congress was attended by the Commissioner Adam Bodnar [more].


Visitation to prison in Wołów

On 16-18 May 2016 Deputy Commissioner Krzysztof Olkowicz together with representatives of the National Preventive Mechanism team visited Prison in Wołów. The attention of visitors was focused especially on the situation of inmates in the therapeutic ward, and also prisoners considered dangerous [more].

Access of prisoners to public information

There are difficulties in prisoners' access to the public information made available upon request, which is not in the Public Information Bulletin (BIP) or a central repository of public information (CRIP). Based on the cases examined at the Office of the Commissioner, the way of examining such requests by the directors of detention centers and prisons is not always consistent with the provisions of the Law on the Access to Public Information. Therefore, the Commissioner reported this case to the Director General of the Prison Service [more].

Psychological support for persons deprived of liberty

According to the applicable standards, one prison psychologist takes care of a group of 200 inmates. In fact, the number may be even higher. Even assuming that not everyone wants to take advantage of the psychological help, the current standard still does not guarantee proper system of psychological support. The Commissioner reported the issue to the Director General of the Prison Service [more].


The funeral of attorney Maciej Dubois

The Commissioner Adam Bodnar attended the funeral of attorney Maciej Dubois. Today, we say goodbye to a man of extraordinary merit for Poland and the legal community. A prominent defender of individual rights. A lawyer who throughout his professional life proved that the right to defense is sacred, timeless and belongs to everyone - said Commissioner during the ceremony at Old Powązki cemetery in Warsaw [more].

The cooperation agreement between the Commissioner for Human Rights and Law Clinics

The Commissioner Adam Bodnar, and President of the University Legal Clinics Foundation Filip Czernicki signed an agreement on cooperation of Commissioner Office and the so-called  Law Clinics. Programme of University Law Clinics consists in the appointment at the faculties of law and administration the points at which law students, under the supervision and patronage of academics and practitioners, provide free legal advices to indigent persons [more].

Aid for afforestation on Natura 2000 area

Support of the afforestation of land located in Natura 2000 areas may be granted only if the Regional Director of Environmental Protection has issued an opinion on the compatibility of the proposed afforestation with protection plans or plans of protection tasks of these areas - explains the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in response to the statement of the Commissioner [more].

 "Human rights in totalitarian regimes" - a lecture by Adam Bodnar at Odwilż 1956 conference

- If we look at the key acts of international law which were created after World War II and concerned the protection of human rights, we should always remember that each of them flowed down with the blood and tears of the families of victims of totalitarian regimes - said Adam Bodnar during the second day of the international "Odwilż 1956" conference organized by the Warsaw Centre for Educational and Social Innovation and Training and the History Meeting House [more].

The meeting of the Commissioner with the Ambassador of Ireland

Ambassador of Ireland paid a visit to the Commissioner. Gerard Keown is an ambassador in Poland since February 2015. Meeting with Adam Bodnar was a courtesy call.