The United Nations Human Rights Council presented recommendations to Poland
During a session in Geneva the United Nations Human Rights Council made an evaluation of the Poland’s record of compliance with the country’s human rights obligations under the Universal Periodic Review, UPR. The Council issued as many as 124 recommendations to Poland.
The Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council serves as a mechanism to monitor the human rights records of particular States. All UN Member States are subject to this mechanism. The review is conducted once every four years. Poland was under review for the first time in 2008.
During the latest session representatives of the governments of 43 States posed a series of recommendations to Poland. Among other things, an amendment of the criminal code was suggested, to include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds of hate speech offences. Poland was also called to accelerate court proceedings and shorten the length of pre-trial detention.
In the Council’s opinion, Poland should take steps to make police officers more sensitive to racially and ethnically motivated hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents and to improve the situation of the LGBT community, in particular by adopting a law allowing same sex couples to enter into a civil partnership.
Another recommendation calls Poland to ensure that women can access lawful abortion in line with the applicable law and explicitly define the legal grounds for therapeutic abortion.
The Council also recommends that Poland should consider ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence and the Convention on the rights of migrant workers and their families. Further, the Human Rights Council appeals for a greater transparency in conducting the investigation into alleged secret CIA prisons in Poland. Among other propositions, it was recommended to remove article 212 of the Criminal Code establishing criminal liability for defamation and to guarantee the access to education for all, in particular children from minority groups, including the Roma community.
In response to the recommendations the representatives of the Polish government stated, among other things, that they had been taking steps to improve the efficiency of the justice system.
They pointed out to the decreasing duration of pre-trial detention and court proceedings. A mention was also made of the advancement of gender equality and the growing role of women in economic and social life. As regards the issue of freedom of speech, the Polish representatives indicated that in 2010 the Criminal Code was amended to reduce the penalty for defamation.
“Until September 2012 Poland has to respond to all the 124 recommendations and specify which of them it accepts and which it is going to implement”, says Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, coordinator of the HFHR Europe of Human Rights project. “We need to take a serious approach to these recommendations so that in 2016, when the next review will be made, Poland won’t have to deal with such an extensive criticism”, adds Ms Bychawska-Siniarska.