The Ombudsperson expressed concerns over the growing number of racist and xenophobic attacks. The parliament rejected a proposal for a total ban on abortion. Concerns were expressed by NGOs over the detention of child asylum-seekers.
The ruling political party, Civic Platform, won the parliamentary elections in October. New members of parliament included two LGBT rights activists, an expert and activist on sexual and reproductive rights and two people of African origin. For the first time in Poland, women were elected to the parliamentary roles of speaker and vice-speaker.Top of page
In July, the Prosecutor’s Office decided to extend the investigation into Poland’s alleged involvement in the CIA’s rendition and secret detention programmes for another six months. According to a Radio RMF FM report in September, the President rejected a request by the Prosecutor’s Office to relieve former President Aleksander Kwaśniewski of his duty to keep state secrets and allow him to testify. No other information about the progress or outcomes of the investigation had been made public by the end of the year.
In October, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the Polish prosecuting authorities to “persevere in seeking to establish the truth about the allegations of secret CIA detentions”. The resolution also noted that the parliament had “confined [itself] to inquiries whose main purpose seems to have been to defend the official position of the national authorities.”Top of page
The government failed to allocate the necessary resources to ensure the Ombudsperson’s office could carry out its new role as an equality body. Antidiscrimination legislation adopted in December 2010 had entrusted the Ombudsperson to help victims of discrimination to pursue complaints, and to conduct independent research and issue recommendations in relation to equal treatment. The government argued that the new competences could be met without additional funding. However, the Ombudsperson stated in May that there was no specialized antidiscrimination unit in her office due to lack of funding, and that it was illegal to impose new competences on a public body without allocating sufficient resources.Top of page
In October, in a letter to the Prosecutor General, the Ombudsperson also raised concerns about the growing number of racially motivated and xenophobic attacks brought to her attention, and called on the Prosecutor to take the necessary measures to address these crimes.Top of page
Poland continued to be criticized for legislation criminalizing defamation, which was found potentially to have had an adverse effect on freedom of expression.
In July, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture raised concerns about prison conditions for detainees. They included overcrowding, inadequate provision of health care, ill-treatment by police officers and the lack of a developed legal aid system. The Committee called on the Polish authorities to review the regulation on living space for prisoners, and to ensure at least 4m² per inmate in multi-occupancy cells. In September, the Ministry of Justice maintained that, due to high prison population levels, it was impossible to guarantee each inmate the space defined by the Committee. According to the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, 4,370 claims for compensation or personal injury were brought before the courts in relation to placements in overpopulated cells.Top of page
In September, parliament rejected a proposed amendment to the 1993 Family Planning Act to ban abortion in all circumstances. It remained lawful in three strictly defined circumstances: when the pregnancy endangers a woman’s life or health; in cases where prenatal or other medical tests indicate a high risk that the foetus will be severely and irreversibly damaged or suffer from an incurable life-threatening disease; and where there are strong grounds for believing that the pregnancy is a result of a criminal act.
In July, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Legal Intervention Association and the Halina Nieć Legal Aid Centre expressed concerns over the detention of children alongside their adult relatives, who were being held solely for immigration purposes.Top of page