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Polish watchdogs – what happened in June?

This year’s June turned out to be very busy. Gender equality, LGBT rights or issues associated with security and freedom of speech are just a few of areas where Watchdogs were active.

Security

In June Senat accepted project of Anti-terrorism Law. According to Amnesty International and many other organizations, it creates a risk of breaches of basic human rights and freedoms. It will allow to security services, among other actions, to block websites and social media. And although many NGO organizations protested, President signed the bill on 22nd June. Still, Panoptykon Foundation doesn’t stop their fight: they plan on among other actions, to appeal to European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and Court of Justice of the European Union and apart form that, to pass the bill to Constitutional Tribunal.

Foundation alarms also in case of amendments to Hazard Law, which would allow to block websites and what follows, would limit freedom of speech along with right to the court and right to privacy in general.

Gender equality

On 18th June in Warsaw The March for Equality took place. The motto of this year’s gathering was “Women’s rights are human rights”. March was planed to speak for liberalization of abortion law in Poland:

-We’re here because sometimes the time comes to stand on the street and say: Enough! Enough ignoring our basic rights, enough violence towards women, enough ignoring our rights to live and be healthy! We demand rapist to be finally sentenced for prison, we don’t want to be blamed – we are the victims. We demand that women who bring up their children alone, weren’t obliged to fight for the alimony. We want to have access to the newest medical technologies – in-vitro is for us. And the most important: we demand stopping of any exacerbation of abortion law! – said one of organizers, Irina Ovcinicov.

Public figures like Krystyna Janda, Agnieszka Holland, Magdalena Cielecka, Jerzy Stuhr, Tymon Tymański, and others supported action wit their presence. The March was co-organized by organizations like Federation for Women and Family Planing (Federa), The Congress of Women, KOD (Committee for Democration Defense), Amnesty International Poland and Feminoteka Foundation.

Federa gathers signatures under the project of liberalization of Abortion Law. Action “Let’s Save the Women” aims to present the project of law that would allow legal and safe termination of pregnancy, assure full health care to pregnant women, allow the access to modern and safe contraception and would introduce sexual education to schools.

Feminoteka Foundation points out the action aiming to stop violence towards women pomagam.pl/stopprzemocy. Thanks to this action, organization wants to inform women, who experience violence, all year round about via help-line duty and be able to give legal and psychological advice, be present during court proceedings of women exposed to violence and to organize anti-violence workshops and actions.

Foundation for Childbirth with Dignity (Rodzić po Ludzku) organized in June action of sending letters to Ministry of Health and President of National Health Fund. Foundations biggest concern is possibility of limitation of right to choose an attending person and a midwife.

Environment

Greenpeace points out the decision of European Commission to commence proceeding in case of Białowieża lodging. Although Minister assured many times that lodging is led in accordance with laws of European Union, Commission pointed out that environmental impact assessment was not conducted and this is severe breach of European law (http://kochampuszcze.pl/skarga/).  You can express your protest by signing petition prepared by organization. In the case of Białowieża, took place the meeting of experts from International Union for Conservation of Nature with Ministry of Environment and The State Forests National Forest Holding. During the debate singularity of Primal Forest was often mentioned and one of the delegates, Herve Lethier declared that lodging will make his organization petition for declaring this side non-existent.

Greenpeace also gave negative opinion on deputy’s project of changes in Renewable energy sources bill, presented by Ministry of Energy.

Changes proposed currently by the Ministry are non favorable for polish families and will not improve country’s energy security. Those proposition will stop the development of civil energetics, says Anna Ogniewska from Greenpeace Poland.

Freedom of speech

Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection called on to Minister Mariusz Błaszczak for intervention with local authorities which own local newspapers. Although Ministry of Interior and Administration agreed with Commissioner Adam Bodnar’s opinion but claimed that present regulations do not exclude taking up publishing business by local authorities and the problem should be considered by Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Vice-minister, Jacek Sellin confirmed in Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that Press Law has to be changed. Citizens Network Watchdog Poland rates Commissioner’s intervention as positive.

On 7th June project of so called „bridge regulation” for media was introduced in Sejm by deputies of Law and Justice. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights pointed out that again, hurried way of proceeding caused absence of social consultations. Apart from that, according to Foundation some resolutions proposed in draft are not going to improve functioning of public media. Especially, as it is underlined in opinion, proposed regulation would not eliminate politician’s control over public media functioning and their message and as a result does not prevent using those media as a tool in public debate. You can read the whole opinion here.

LGBT rights

On 11th June 16th Parade of Equality marched through the streets of Warsaw. According to Police’s estimations about 35.000 people were present, among them many social and political activists. Leading motto of this year’s march became: our common rights – our common interest. You can read about Parade’s demands here.

In June Campaign Against Homophobia issued a letter to Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz and asked her  for a meeting. Association appreciated President’s for commemorating victims of 12th June massacre in Orlando. Mrs. President honored victims outside USA Embassy and sent a letter of condolence to mayor of Orlando.

Legislation

Civil Forum for Legislation, associated with Batory Foundation, published new report from observation of legislation, concerning period from 16th February to 15th May. Report, (available here), shows that number of legal regulations doubles the number of those adopted by two preceded governments. Document also mentions alarming plans and practices like making all the terms short during government as well as parliamentary stage of legislation. This often results in applying special procedures and in resigning from the rules of creating laws according to earlier outlines.

Education

Anti-discrimination Education Association (TEA) published collection of interviews titled School of equality. Journal of practices. Publication is dedicated mostly to all school workers and aims to show how to lead anti-discrimination education is practice. You can read TEA’s work here (in Polish only).

Author: Karolina Banasiak

Translation: Urszula Winecka

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