Commissioner for Human Rights

Newsletter 24-30 May 2016

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Newsletter of 24-30 May 2016



A meeting with the Vice-President of the European Commission

Frans Timmermans, the first Vice-President of the European Commission met with the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, Adam Bodnar, at the Office of the Commissioner. Their discussion concerned Polish matters and the continuous constitutional crisis [more].

Administrative fines – appeal for change of law

Removal of a tree on one’s own property, excessive speed on the road, breach of the regulations regarding food production or transport activities – an increasing number of people in Poland is punished with administrative penalties, because recently, many acts have introduced such a possibility. Administrative fines are usually ruled automatically and in many situations they infringe the sense of justice. The CHR and the Covenant of professional self-governments and legal associations appeals for change of law in this respect [more].

Counteracting human rights violations by the Police officers

The alleged use of torture against a man detained under the accusation of drugs possession at one of municipal Police stations (i.e. beating, kicking all over the body, tasering) indicates the necessity of quick adoption of proper solutions to counteract similar violations. The Commissioner contacted the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration regarding this case [more].

Human rights in the 21st century – debate of the CHR in the Polish Academy of Sciences

-We must recover emotions for human rights. The fact that the fight for social rights, decent work, the right to housing, equal start conditions has not become an important element of our debates on human rights constitutes a serious problem. And an important lesson for the defenders of human rights - in such a way the Commissioner for human rights Adam Bodnar summed up the debate which was held in Staszic Palace in Warsaw on 24th May [more].

The CHR and the Ombudsperson for Children about professional activation of the unemployed child support defaulters

About 30 per cent out of one million of unsupported children does not receive financial support from one of their parents - indicate the results of a research conducted by the ARC Rynek i Opinia Research Institute, commissioned by BIG InfoMonitor. It occurs because the parent obliged to pay alimony remains unemployed. At the same time, the past actions undertaken for professional activation of child support defaulters are insufficient and ineffective. The Commissioner for human rights and the Ombudsperson for Children in a joint statement appealed to the Minister of Family for introduction of new solutions which will enable the defaulters’ entering or returning on the job market [more].

After counterdemonstration to "March for life" in Szczecin

The Commissioner for human rights received from Provincial Police Commander in Szczecin explanations on detention of two female adversaries of "March for life", which gathered the proponents of total prohibition of abortion [more].

Tax payment for property being joined ownership

A housing cooperative, being a joined owner of an agricultural ground together with a commune, paid agricultural tax on the terms valid for legal persons. The tax authority called the association to pay the tax in the part assigned for the commune, in spite of the fact that the commune was legally exempted from the tax. Meanwhile, in the assessment of administrative courts it may not be so that joint co-ownership real estate tax liability makes it impossible to use the statutory right for exemption from the tax obligation. The Commissioner contacted the Minister of Finance with regard to this problem [more].

Can a rescue dog work in a forest?

The regulations concerning rescue dogs will be analyzed during the next works on amendment of the Act on forests or amendments in the Act on nature protection – informs Minister of Environment. The Commissioner contacted the Minister concerning the need to introduce the regulations that will permit work and training of rescue dogs used e.g. for search for missing persons [more].

Professional qualifications of persons performing grounds classification

The status of persons performing grounds classification, as well as the qualifications required in order to obtain the rights to perform this profession, should result from the Act – Geodetic and Cartographic Law. The CHR contacted the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development with such a postulate. In spite of many statements directed since 2008 concerning this matter, the legislator has yet to consider the Commissioner's remarks [more].

Security of the course of equality marches

The Commissioner contacted the Commander -in-Chief of the Police about a review of conclusions related to the course of equality marches and the use of adopted solutions also when securing other public gatherings. The conclusions concerning Police activities were drawn up on the basis of the opinion of the marches' organizers [more].


On the principles of reducing the agricultural subsidies for large farms

The Commissioner sent several statements to the Minister of Agriculture concerning the mechanism of the method of agricultural subsidies division – it concerns the principle that the large farms which have already received EUR 150 000 subsidies from the EU, will not get more. In response, the Minister informed the Commissioner about a plan to introduce another mechanism to the national legal order: deductions from the base of employment reduction cost. The Minister forwarded this intention to the EU Commissioner for agriculture and rural development [more].

On the problem of agricultural subsidies drawn by unauthorized persons

The Commissioner sent a statement to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development concerning the fact that valid regulations do not oblige the Agency for the Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture to control whether the farmer applying for subsidies is entitled to conducting economic activities on a given land. Now, he received an answer [more].


Persons staying in public nursing homes against their will

In the present legal condition, it is possible for people with disabilities, incapacitated by virtue of court order, to stay in public nursing homes against their will, solely on the basis of the decision of a legal guardian. Such persons cannot question the compulsory stay in PNH in court. The Commissioner contacted the Minister of Health for providing information whether the draft of amendment to the Act on mental health care protection envisages an increase in legal protection of these persons [more].

Scholarship for students with disabilities

For a long time, the Commissioner has been requesting a change in legal regulations preventing the students with disabilities from receiving special scholarship on the second field of study. In his statement sent to the Minister of Science and Higher Education, the CHR asks whether it is planned to introduce respective amendments in the Act on higher education. The special scholarship would facilitate the students with disabilities gaining additional qualification, and, as a consequence, it would foster equalisation of their opportunities on the labour market [more].

Counteracting violence towards foreigners studying in Poland

In the opinion of the Commissioner, there is a need for a strong reaction of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education against violence and discrimination which is experienced by foreigners studying in Poland. The recent events, such as manifestation of the National Radical Camp taking place in Białystok or racist assault on foreigners studying in Poland, raise their justified fear, are not beneficial for Polish image and have a negative impact on attractiveness of Polish universities abroad [more].

Third National Diversity Day

-Each and every one of us should be able to fully and freely decide about their own choices regarding professional activities, in a manner independent from stereotypical beliefs concerning sex and age – said dr. Sylwia Spurek the Deputy Commissioner for Human Rights for equal treatment during the conference on the occasion of the 3rd Polish National Diversity Day [more].

Availability of academic education for persons with disabilities

The Commissioner receives signals about the exclusion of people with disabilities from the group of potential students of some universities. The role of particular ministers performing supervision over universities should include counteracting such practices, violating not only respective legislation and the Constitution, but also the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. The CHR appealed to the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, the Minister of Health, the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation to take appropriate actions [more].


Golden Book of Good Practices – applications can be sent by 30th June

Suggestions of good practices for the second edition of the Golden Book of Good Practices competition for Social Participation of Older People can be sent by 30th June. Last year, 24 particularly valuable initiatives submitted by social organizations and local governments were awarded with an entry to the Golden Book. More information about the awarded projects can be found for example on the website of the CHR [more].

For the old age ours and yours!

To 24 May this year, 53 partners have applied for participation in our Activities, including 2 MPs to Sejm, 14 non-governmental organizations, 14 third age universities, 5 local senior councils, private persons and others. The declared total number of members of organizations that declared their participation amounts to nearly 10 000 people [more information about the Activities and application form].

Limitation of the rights of scientific and academic employees due to age

Persons who are above seventy cannot become candidates for members of the Central Committee for Degrees and Titles. In the opinion of the Ministry of Science this solution is supposed to foster generational replacement among the scientists, as well as to improve functioning and increase clarity of operations of Polish science representative and control organizations. However, the Commissioner still believes that such age restrictions can be discriminatory and once again contacted the Minister of Science and Higher Education regarding this matter [more].

Are the right of older people sufficiently protected?

In response to the statement of the Commissioner for human rights concerning the need to implement a comprehensive senior policy on the state level, including the so-called Madrid Plan (UN, 2002), the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy presented a description of activities and principles included in the Assumptions of a long-term senior policy for 2014-2020 as well as the objectives of projects and government programs [more].


Customer Service Point returns to Kielce  

Resuming operations by the Customer Service Point of the Commissioner for Human Rights in Kielce was the main topic of the meeting between the Commissioner, Adam Bodnar and the Head of Świętokrzyskie Voivodship, Adam Jarubas. During the visit in Kielce, the Commissioner participated in the conference entitled "Surveillance Act and civil rights" organized by Professor Edward Lipinski School of Economics, Law and Medical Sciences. Dr Bodnar also met the students of one of Kielce's high schools and conducted a class as part of the Constitutional Week #MojaKonstytucja .

Construction of power transmission lines

The Commissioner for Human Rights continuously takes actions aimed at guaranteeing the observance of rights of the local residents and communities whose legally justified interests may be infringed during implementation of strategic investments related to the construction of power transmission lines (it is in particular about the 400 kV line Ełk – border of the Republic of Poland) [more].

Legal protection of the persons entitled to social housing

Communes observe that only a creditor may claim an execution of the right to social premises. Without such actions undertaken by the creditor, the debtor will not be placed on the list of persons waiting to rent such premises. Such person will still live in the flat which the court ordered him to vacant and return to the creditor. As a consequence, the debtor must make a monthly payments of compensation for occupying the premises without a legal right thereto. There is also no effective procedure enabling court's evaluation of whether the proposed social premises meet the statutory standards. Among other things these were the problems regarding which the CHR contacted the Minister of Infrastructure and Construction [more].


The right of convicts to receive packages

In complaints sent to the Commissioner, persons deprived of their liberty question the manner of execution of the right to receive packages. The reservations are related to prohibition of receiving fruits and vegetables in the packages and the adopted practice of submission of statements on consent to replace the missing item with other, in the same price, selected by the person making the package. The Deputy CHR contacted the Deputy General Director of the Prison Service about explanations concerning this matter [more].

Testing the persons deprived of  liberty for the presence of alcohol or drugs in their body

Persons staying in pre-trial detention centres and prisons sent complaints the Commissioner for Human Rights concerning tests for presence of alcohol, intoxicants, psychotropic substances in the body performed by Prison Service. Despite the cases of questioning the test results, Prison Service refuses to verify them by means of laboratory tests. The CHR contacted the Minister of Justice regarding this matter [more].

The Inspection of MPS in the Salesian Centre for Educational in Różanystok

On 23-24 May the representatives of MPS carried out an inspection in the Salesian Centre for Educational in Różanystok. Visitors have positively evaluated the establishment. Social rehabilitation work with residents is based on the principle of supporting positive features in minors and on an individual approach to each of them. SCE offers many forms of creative social rehabilitation, e.g.: circus classes, horse ride classes, capoeira trainings. Furthermore, the initiatives teaching the residents tolerance towards other cultures are also being implemented [more].


 Adam Bodnar during unveiling of the mural for Khadija Ismayilova

-Poland has special obligations towards political prisoners; after all, we possess a beautiful legacy of "Solidarność". For this reason, we should support such initiatives – said dr Adam Bodnar during the ceremonial unveiling of the mural for Khadija Ismayilova. It is the Azeri journalist famous for publication of materials disclosing corruption among authorities, including, among family members of the Azerbaijan President. She is imprisoned for more than 500 days [more].