In October, Poland became the first European country to acknowledge a rendition victim’s claims when a Saudi national allegedly held in a secret detention centre in Poland was granted “victim” status. The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health noted that restrictive legislation had resulted in an increase of unsafe, clandestine abortions.
Presidential elections were held in two rounds in June and July following a plane crash in April, in which President Lech Kaczyński and other senior public officials died. As a result of the elections, Bronisław Komorowski – who had been serving as interim President – was sworn in on 6 August.Top of page
A criminal investigation by the Appellate Prosecution Authority in Warsaw into Poland’s complicity in the CIA-led rendition and secret detention programme continued. The Polish Air Navigation Services Agency released information in December 2009 indicating that flights operating under the rendition programme had landed in Poland – mainly at Szymany Airport, near the alleged site of a secret detention facility at Stare Kiejkuty.
Documents released by the Polish Border Guard Office in July confirmed that seven planes operating under the CIA-led rendition programme landed at Szymany airport between December 2002 and September 2003. Passengers, in addition to crew, were aboard at landing and/or departure.
In October, the UN Human Rights Committee called on the Polish authorities to ensure that the inquiry into allegations of the involvement of officials in renditions and secret detentions had full investigative powers to call witnesses and compel the production of documents.
Following several years of preparatory work, the parliament adopted anti-discrimination legislation in December. NGOs criticized its limited scope, however, as the grounds on which discrimination is prohibited do not include gender identity, political opinion, or other status such as marital. They also voiced concern that instead of creating a new independent office to monitor and promote the new legislation, the institution responsible for this would be the Ombudsperson.Top of page
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health highlighted in May that the Act on Family Planning, which revoked economic and social reasons as grounds for lawful termination of pregnancies, had resulted in an increase of unsafe, clandestine abortions. In October, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed concern that many women were denied access to reproductive health services, including lawful termination of pregnancy.
Human rights monitoring bodies have further identified a conscientious objection clause in the Act, which allows medical personnel to refuse to perform certain procedures, as an obstacle to accessing reproductive rights. According to a report adopted by the Council of Europe’s Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly in September, health care institutions in Poland lacked a formal policy on conscientious objection. The report raised concern over the misuse of this clause by hospital management, who had frequently adopted an unwritten policy of banning some interventions, including abortions.
In October, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed concerns about reports of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials. It also noted that incidents of police violence were not always reported due to victims’ fear of being prosecuted.
The refugee centre in the town of Łomża was closed in November following a campaign by a Member of Parliament and a petition by 800 citizens of Łomża. During the campaign, the mostly Chechen refugees were labelled as criminals by some media. Various national NGOs protested against the closure during the school year. After the closure, the refugees had to either look for rental housing or another refugee centre with places available.Top of page
A significant rise in hate speech and intolerance against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people was noted by the UN Human Rights Committee in October.Top of page