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UN Universal Periodic Review – Poland

In May 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Council will evaluate the Poland’s record of compliance with the country’s human rights obligations as part of the process known as the Universal Periodic Review, or the UPR. The HFHR and Professor Zbigniew Hołda Association have presented a joint report on selected themes related to human rights protection in 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, the next review cycle was in 2012 (to find out more, follow this link).

The organisations’ report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council focused on the issues of the ongoing constitutional crisis, independence of the judiciary and the situation in the public media corporations.

“In our opinion, the ongoing constitutional crisis, which revolves around the procedure for appointment of new judges of the Constitutional Tribunal and legislative changes to the Tribunal’s working rules, creates a major threat to the rule of law and human rights”, says Małgorzata Szuleka, a member of the HFHR’s legal team. While presenting the scope of the constitutional crisis, the organisations offer recommendations on how to overcome the deadlock. “We think that a measure that would help to resolve the crisis is the President’s taking the oath from the three judges appointed in October 2015. Also, the publication and implementation of all the unpublished Tribunal’s judgments would be the step in the right direction”, the HFHR’s Board Member Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska says.

The organisations also note the situation in the public media organisations. In their opinion, the new laws enacted in 2016 that established the National Media Council do not contain sufficient guarantees that would protect the public media against partisan political pressures. “In our opinion, the 2016 regulations on the National Media Council fall short of the task of providing sufficient safeguards against undue pressure from politicians, Ms Bychawska-Siniarska adds.

The report’s drafters also comment on the issues related to the rights of refugees and migrants. “Detention of foreign nationals still remains an unresolved problem”, the Foundation’s lawyer Jacek Białas says. “Polish law allows for the placement of families with small children and unaccompanied minors under 15 years of age in guarded immigration facilities”, Mr Białas adds. Moreover, Poland does not have an effective mechanism for identifying torture victims who arrive from countries where torture is used. Recently, there has been a surge in the number of cases of foreigners who are deprived of the ability to seek the refugee status.

The report of the HFHR and Professor Zbigniew Hołda Association can be accessed here.


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