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Watchdog activities in April 2016

Among the most significant initiatives taken last month, we can count these referring to reproduction rights, anti-terroristic regulation and wide-spread questions of discrimination. Couple of important reports were published by Federation for Women and Family Planing, Anti-discrimination Education Association and Responsible Business Forum. Take a look at how watchdog organization worked this month.

Human rights

In April, Amnesty International concerned by spreading information about “anti-imigrational safety patrols” in and around Łodź, intervened with local authorities and called them to action. It was caused by spreading news about ONR (National Radical Camp) groups, that were to “patrol” neighborhood of immigrants reception center in Łódź.

The question of nationalist organizations emerged also in Białystok, where Faculty Office of the Archbishop issued official statement concerning Holly Mass during which members of ONR were visibly present. Faculty Office apologized for the behavior of ONR’s members during this event, which took place 16th April. According the statement (link: http://www.archibial.pl/ogloszenia.php?ogl=1627) Faculty Office would like to assure that church in Białystok is apolitical and a stranger to nationalism. ONR’s actions were also criticized by Otwarta Rzeczpospolita (Open Republic, link: http://www.otwarta.org/msza-z-flagami-onr/).

Anti-terrorism Law

27th April Government published the draft of the new Anti-terrorism Law, which as Panoptykon Foundation points out, would introduce the possibility of blocking websites and proclaim every foreigner suspected of posing thread to public safety. Among specialists speaking of this project, Tomasz Borkowski indicated, that taking safety issues presented by World Youth Days and NATO Summit, this regulation going to make effective protection harder as it is very likely to create chaos in public safety sector (whole text here: http://m.krytykapolityczna.pl/artykuly/kraj/20160427/ustawa-antyterrorystyczna-czy-antyopozycyjna). Panoptykon emphasizes also, that no public consultations regarding this regulation are planed by government. Still, it will be discussed during a meeting organized by Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection, 6th May (https://www.rpo.gov.pl/pl/content/konsultacje-publiczne-dla-NGOs-ustawa-antyterrorystyczna)

Counteraction against discrimination

The report of  Towarzystwo Edukacji Antydyskryminacyjnej (Anti-discrimination Education Association, TEA) was also published in April. Over 70 cases of violence driven by stereotypes and discrimination in school were listed, that were talked about last year. Survey team monitored 20 regional web portals from allover the country, Gazeta Wyborcza and all their local chapters. About 6 incidents were noted every month – report lists, among other cases: suicide of Dominic from Bieżuń, who were called “faggot” at school, oppressive order of entering the class in school in Legnica, sexual molestation of schoolgirl in Chodzież and language of hate used by the teachers (Make order with those faggots not with us shouted a teacher during Equality March in Gdańsk).

Gathered information confirm what TEA contained in their last year’s report (Discrimination in school – unjustified presence): that violence among teenagers is closely bundled with material status, gender, disabilities, age and ethnic origin.

Reproductive rights

Federacji na Rzecz Kobiet i Planowania Rodziny (Federation for Women and Family Planing) objects against project of regulation, that would limit the right to emergency contraception. As underlined by organization it would be another diminution of gender equality. Ellaone pill which is in the middle of this dispute, is a method of contraception admitted to be sold over-the-counter in European Union by Regulation issued in January 2015. In Poland it was made available in April 2015 and can be redeemed by persons over 15 years old. Soon, the new regulation might make it available on prescription only again. The amendment was already approved by the Ministry of Health and the project is now passed for outside consultations. – It can be estimated that every year 80.000 – 200 000 abortions are conducted. Those figures can sky-rocket if legal chances proposed by government are accepted – warned the experts during debate “It was allowed before, will it be allowed after? Emergency contraception, pregnancy termination – should we fear?”, organized by I Have the Right Coalition in Sejm, on 14th April. Draginja Nadaždin, director of Amnesty International was among the experts.

Federation checked also procedures required for legal abortion. 200 of total 400 Poland’s hospitals with working gynecological – obstetric wards were put under monitoring, regarding six voivodeships: lubuskie, zachodniopomorskie, wielkopolskie, mazowieckie, małopolskie and śląskie as from these voivodeships the signals about refusals of legal abortions were coming the most often. According to the report most of hospitals have no official procedures and staff often requires a lot of additional documents, which are not required by law or even against it, starting with additional consultations, approvals of medical consiliums or special commissions, through additional opinions, which patient is required to obtain herself, for example husband’s consent or opinions of two other doctors.

The whole report “Good morning, I would like to terminate pregnancy… About procedures of accessibility of legal pregnancy termination in Polish hospitals ” is available here http://www.federa.org.pl/dokumenty_pdf/2016/RAPORT%20-%20SZPITALE%20-%20FEDERACJA.pdf.

Apart from that, Feminoteka Foundation protested against deferred sentences for teenagers accused of collective rape. We forcefully object to deferred sentences for rapes! – wrote Foundation.

Business

Report Responsible Business in Poland. Good Practices is periodical publication of Forum Odpowiedzialnego Biznesu (Responsible Business Forum, FOB), which sums up actions taken by firms in the previous year – now we get 2015 survey. This publication is Poland’s biggest review of responsible business actions. According to FOB, this years edition noted 813 the record amount of good practices – CRS (Corporate Social Responsibility). This sum consists of all practices, reported for the first time and others. Last years’ amount was 684. New examples of practices (454) were also published (420 last year) and 359 of long term practices, that is those, which were noted previously and continued in 2015 (264 last year).

In 2016, apart from presentation of Report in Warsaw, FOB organizes also presentations is different regions of Poland. The meetings are open, targeted at businessmen, local authority members, NGO’s, business organizations and universities active in the regions (http://odpowiedzialnybiznes.pl/ogloszenie-raportu/).

Civil society development

In April in Stefan Batory Foundation debate concerning problems of election system took place. Members from academic circles and think-tanks underlined, that first of all, we need to think of optimal representation system. Experts debated if the perfect system should be designed answer the needs of voters or build their political culture and why election system does not promote new parties. Relation from the meeting is available here: http://www.batory.org.pl/aktualnosci/systemy_wyborcze_jakie_wartosci.

Public finance

Forum Obywatelskiego Rozwoju (Forum of Civil Development, FOR) alarms in the area of public finances Government plans to subject the EU funds for realization of Morawiecki’ Plan – writes FOR and informs, that half of the billion zlotys, which Beata Szydło’s government plans to invest in building “strong Polish economy” are just funds guaranteed to Poland in 2013 for years 2014-2020, which would be spent anyway, regardless of Morawiecki’ Plan. According to FOR, government misleads public opinion, presenting scheduled plan of using EU funds as a new idea. Organization also points out that it’s not only communicative manipulation but an essential mistake: rules of spending EU funds were planed in details in January 2015 and transferring these money to finance Moriawiecki’ Plan would open new disputes with Venice Commission – which would mean stopping money transfers for even a year. So, the only way of adapting European funds to government’s plans is, according to FOR, non-ethical influence on outcomes of competitions for European support.

FOR also alarms that government has undone the reform of criminal proceedings, allowing the skipping the law by public safety services. New regulations is to cancel provisions of so-called “great reform”. Government did not only annul the reform: during legislation works, new harmful amendment was introduced, namely the one regarding articles168a and 168b of Code of Criminal Procedure, which allowed the court to dismiss evidences that were collected illegally. According to FOR, those changes open the way for the services of skipping the law.

Białowieża Primal Forest

Greenpeace, WWF, Dzika Polska (Wild Poland), ClientEarth, Greenmind, Ogólnopolskie Towarzystwo Ochrony Ptaków (Polish Society for Protection of Birds) i Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot (Workshop for All Creatures issued a complaint to Secretary-General of European Commission. Organizations called for intervention regarding scheduled logging in Białowieża Primal Forest, the only natural site on UNESCO World Heritage List in Poland.


Author: Karolina Banasiak

Translation: Urszula Winecka

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