The HFHR appealed to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to strictly supervise the enforcement of the ECtHR judgement entered in the case Kubaszewski v. Poland
The HFHR appealed to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to strictly supervise the enforcement of the ECtHR judgement entered in the case Kubaszewski v. Poland (application no. 571/04). The case involves an infringement of the right to freedom of expression and demonstrates a broader problem of disregarding the relevant standards of the ECtHR by Polish courts.
The facts of the case are that the applicant, a local councillor, accused the local authorities of irregularities in budget spending. The accusations were made during the Municipal Council’s session. Members of the Municipal Board successfully sued the applicant for the infringement of personal interests. The ECHR found that Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to freedom of expression) had been breached, as Mr Kubaszewski’s accusation had related to issues of public interest. Further, it stated that as elected officials, the members of the Municipal Board who launched a suit against the applicant, should have shown a greater degree of tolerance in face of criticism.
Finding the violation of a given law enshrined in the Convention results in an ECtHR judgement being referred for enforcement by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.
The report submitted to the CECM by the Polish government suggests that Mr Kubaszewski’s case was only ‘an isolated and individual breach of the guarantee of the freedom of expression’. The Polish government emphasises that it has paid damages to the applicant. It has also commissioned the translation of the Court’s judgement and posted it on the website of the Ministry of Justice. The text was also distributed among, inter alia, courts of appeal, the National School of Judiciary and the Prosecution Service to be included in the syllabuses of professional development courses (see the ‘Action Report’ drafted by the government).
The HFHR is of the view that the case of Kubaszewski v. Poland is more than ‘an accidental mistake’ of the Polish justice system. Instead, it is a good example of the disregard by the domestic courts for the ECtHR standards of adjudicating in cases involving Article 10 of the Convention.
The Foundation sees the need for a broader distribution of the ECtHR’s judgement among persons and institutions related to the Polish justice system as well as local government bodies. According to the HFHR, it is highly advisable to run a regular training scheme for judges and prosecutors on the European Court of Human Rights’ standards , including those related to the freedom of expression. Finally, the Foundation stressed the need for making amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure that would enable the applicants to reopen the case following the ECtHR ruling on the breach of the Convention.