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Poland

    July 26, 2017
      Responding to an announcement by the European Commission (EC) that it is launching infringement proceedings against Poland, and stands ready to trigger legal action if laws are passed giving the government tighter controls over the judiciary, Gauri Van Gulik, Deputy Europe Director at Amnesty International, said:   “The message from the EU is clear: respect the rule of law, or face serious sanctions. These reforms would seriously compromise the independence of the courts and severely undermine the right to fair trial in Poland, and are out of step with European standards and the Polish Constitution.   “The government’s assault on the justice system calls for an extraordinary response from the EU, and the EC must be prepared to follow through on its words and trigger Article 7 if these alarming reforms are written into law.  
    July 19, 2017
      Following the news that the European Union has threatened to trigger Article 7 against Poland if currently tabled judicial reforms are passed into law, Iverna McGowan Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office said:   “Triggering Article 7 would be an unprecedented move, and the strong message sent by the EU today that it is close to making that step is a welcome demonstration of the seriousness with which it’s taking the assault on judicial independence in Poland.   “The Law and Justice Party’s ongoing efforts to dismantle Poland’s system of checks and balances is at a critical phase. The prosecution service and the Constitutional Tribunal of the country’s justice system is already under the political control of the government. Successful passage of these current reforms would amount to a wholesale political takeover of the judiciary. The consequences of this for the future integrity of Polish justice are far reaching and deeply concerning.’’  
    July 18, 2017
      Amnesty International is alarmed by the amendments to the Law on the National Council of Judiciary and the Law on Common Courts adopted by the parliament: the lower chamber, Sejm on 12 July and the Senate on 15 July. The amendments are now awaiting the signature of the President of Poland. Another amendment, of the Law on the Supreme Court, put on the agenda of Sejm at night of 12 July raises further concerns over the government’s attempt to put the judiciary under political control.   This amendment is going for the first hearing on 18 July. The changes and why they are problematic are listed below.   These changes follow earlier, already problematic amendments to the composition of the Constitutional Tribunal that severely affected its independence to the extent that the European Commission issued a recommendation under the Rule of Law Framework in which it found that there was a “systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland”.  Another source of concern in relation to the independence of the justice system is the large-scale personnel changes in the prosecution service carried out in 2016.
    July 18, 2017
    Poland put people's rights first and protect the right to a fair trial

    Download a PDF of the most recent update to UA 173/17 Poland

    173a Poland.pdf 173a Poland.pdf

     

    May 11, 2016

    The Polish government is today putting before parliament an anti-terrorism bill to consolidate power in the hands of the Polish Internal Security Agency (ISA). In its bid to have the new law in place by 1 June 2016, the government has failed to seek input from human rights or other civil society organizations. In response to the proposed bill, Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counterterrorism and human rights, said:

    “The Polish government is trying to rush through a dangerous anti-terrorism bill that would give seemingly unlimited powers to its intelligence services without allowing for democratic oversight of its operations. The Polish parliament must reject this bill and call for an effective oversight mechanism to be put in place with a view to ensuring that human rights are protected."

    The bill includes provisions for banning assemblies and public protests, as well as long pre-trial detention periods and discriminatory measures targeting foreigners in Poland. It will also give the ISA new powers to access data held by virtually every government agency and private companies. 

    September 17, 2015

    Poland’s legal system falls dangerously short when it comes to protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and other minority groups from hate crimes, Amnesty International said in a new report today less than two months ahead of general elections.

    Targeted by hatred, forgotten by law shows how the state has excluded whole communities from hate crime legislation, including homeless people, people with disabilities and the LGBTI community.

    “Poland has a two-tiered legal system that protects some minority groups but leaves others to fend for themselves. If you are a gay man or woman, a person with a disability or a homeless person in Poland and attacked because of who you are, the police will just treat it as an ordinary crime, not as a hate crime – this dangerous protection gap must be closed immediately,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination in Europe and Central Asia.

    July 24, 2014

    Poland is the first European Union member state to be found complicit in the USA’s rendition, secret detention, and torture of alleged terrorism suspects, Amnesty International said as it applauded two landmark human rights judgments handed down today. 

    The European Court of Human Rights found that the Polish government colluded with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to establish a secret prison at Stare Kiejkuty, which operated between 2002 and 2005. At the site, 180 km north of Warsaw, detainees were held in secret detention and tortured.

    “Today’s historic rulings finally unlock the truth about a dark period of Poland’s recent history and mark a milestone against impunity. Poland knowingly became part of the USA’s illegal network of black sites that was used to secretly detain and torture individuals rounded up in counter-terrorism operations,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    October 30, 2013

    By granting “injured person” status to a torture survivor currently detained by the US military at Guantánamo Bay, the Polish authorities are a step closer to revealing the truth about the US-led secret detention and rendition program in Poland, Amnesty International said today.

    Yemeni national Walid Mohammed bin Attash is the third person to be recognized as a victim by the Polish Prosecutor General in its five-year investigation into alleged human rights violations by the CIA on Polish territory.

    "Walid bin Attash’s allegations of torture are extremely serious and deserve investigation – it is good that the Polish prosecutors agree,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights. 

    “This development should provide the much-needed push forward for the lagging investigation, which is now over five years running.”

    June 12, 2013

    A Yemeni man held by the US military has become the third person to seek victim status in an ongoing investigation by the Polish Prosecutor’s Office into Poland’s involvement in the US-led rendition and secret detention programmes.

    This morning Mariusz Paplaczyk, the Polish lawyer of Yemeni national Walid bin Attash, announced that yesterday he submitted an application requesting the Prosecutor's Office to grant his client with "injured person" (victim) status. After his arrest in Pakistan in 2003, Bin Attash passed through a number of CIA “black sites”, including one in Poland, before being taken to Guantánamo, where he currently awaits trial by military commission.

    The announcement came during a news conference in Warsaw to launch Amnesty International’s new report, Unlock the truth: Poland's involvement in CIA secret detention.

    June 12, 2013

    A five-year investigation into Poland’s involvement in the US-led rendition and secret detention programs must be completed immediately, with those responsible for human rights violations brought to justice in fair trials, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    The Polish government is accused of colluding with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to establish a secret prison at Stare Kiejkuty, 180 km north of Warsaw, where suspects were subjected to enforced disappearance and tortured between 2002 and 2005.

    The investigation of the CIA 'black site' has dragged on since 2008 and has been conducted largely under cover of secrecy. The Polish prosecutors have thus far declined to disclose almost any information related to the investigation or make its findings public.

    April 04, 2013

    A Roma community in Poland are being threatened with imminent eviction and homelessness in a blatant violation of international human rights law, Amnesty International said today.

    In a rare move for Poland, the city of Wroclaw in the west of the country is planning to force around 60 Romanian Roma from an informal settlement on municipal land, while offering no alternative homes for them.

    “Forcibly evicting up to 60 people is utterly unacceptable behaviour by a government with very clear obligations to uphold human rights,” said Marek Marczyñski, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “Alternative accommodation must be offered before 60 people, 35 of whom are children, are made homeless,” said Marczyñski.  

    The residents were served with a 14-day eviction notice on 26 March but the municipal government has never consulted them on alternative places to live.  

    If the authorities fail to provide adequate alternative accommodation or consult the community affected, the eviction would violate international human rights law and standards.

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