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Watchdog organizations in May: look what they have done!

Half of May is already behind us so taking a look at watchdog organizations achievements is worthwhile! Anti-terrorism Law, new National Council of the Judiciary of Poland Act and exacerbation of abortion regulations are still among important issues.

Anti-terrorism Law

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights spoke out about Anti-terrorism Law draft of which first reading took place in Sejm on 20th May. Foundation reported their doubts regarding this regulation, concerning especially, project of placing foreigners under  operating surveillance or blocking web pages, which is against standards elaborated in judicial decisions of European Court for Human Rights.

Also Amnesty International rose again the alarm about Anti-terrorism Law, which government plans to make effective on 1st July. Organization warns, that new regulations give practically unlimited power to Agencja Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego (Internal Security Agency) and provides no democratic means to control their actions and operations.

Reproductive rights

Federation for Women and Family Planning informed, that members of German, Austrian and British parliaments had their say about exacerbation of abortion regulations. They send a letter to Speaker of Sejm, Marek Kuchciński regarding the project of the bill initiated by citizens pronouncing total prohibition of abortion in Poland. As the parliament members pointed out, in Poland availability of abortion is already much restricted. It is worth mentioning that according to CBOS’ (Public Opinion Research Center) survey, Polish people are not so keen to accept changes proposed by pro-life organizations.

Komitet Ratujmy Kobety (Let’s Save Women Committee) started gathering signatures under the project of liberalization of Abortion Law.

Freedom of the media

In May, Adam Bodnar, Commissioner for Civil Rights called on Minister of Interior and Administration to postulate introduction of legal regulations, that would establish clear rules of publication of public information bulletins of local authorities of all levels. And even though authorities should inform of their actions, their bulletins became to much of “machines of propaganda” for commune heads, mayors and presidents than source of information for the citizens.   That is the reason why Citizens Network Watchdog Poland supports Adam Bodnar’s actions.

At the beginning of May, Amnesty International reminded also about World Press Freedom Day. For this occasion Reporters Without Borders published the list of countries according to the extent of freedom of press. The list contains most of the countries of the world and is organized to picture level of respect for mentioned freedom. It is based on the surveys answered by journalists from all-over the world, researchers, lawyers and human rights activist. The survey covers mostly topic of direct attacks on journalists and media as well as other indirect forms of pressure. Poland noted significant fell of 29 positions it this ranking, from place 18 to 47. As Reporters Without Borders pointed out, this diagnosis in very important in view of work on the new Media Act.

Web-portal MamPrawoWiedzeć.pl runs the campaign “Zapytaj posła o poglądy” („Ask representatives their views”). According to organization, in the current public debate doesn’t concern a handful of socially important issues, which makes citizens unaware of what are representatives for Sejm views on particular topics. So, you can take a look at the list of the names of all representatives who didn’t until now, presented their views about they were asked in the questionnaire.  You can write any of them and ask them to do the survey.

Media Act

On May 17th, public hearing dedicated to project of the National Media Act and the Audiovisual Fee Act took place in Sejm. Among others Obywatelski Pakt na rzecz Mediów Publicznych (Civil Pact for Public Media) were present. Organization reported many comments: Barbara Chmiel talked among other things, about how the project neglects the questions o culture popularization, equalization of educational and cultural opportunities or support for the artists.  According to PolskieRadio.pl, also Obywatele Nauki (Citizens of Academia) complained about too general character of many regulations. Apart from that, as pointed out Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, proposed limitation of The National Broadcasting Council’s Office’s competences by creation of National Media Council’s Office “means skipping the Constitution”.

System of justice

Fundacja Court Watch Polska (Court Watch Poland Foudation) had their say about the project of amendments in  National Council of the Judiciary of Poland Act, which was presented for public consultations on May 5th. The most important changes concern appointing new representatives of judiciary and obligation for Council to present to President at least two candidates for every vacancy.

Ecology

Greenpeace prepared the sum-up of Minister’s actions for ecology. Organization approves, among other things, Minister Jurgiel’s decision of denial of approval for utilization for pesticides and Prime Minister Szydło for signing in New York new climate change agreement and declaration of its soon ratification.

Education

Since 2015 runs the 5th edition of Watchdog.edu.pl programme, which concerns competitions for faculty members at public universities. Monitoring tries to establish the amount of “staged” competitions, how they are organized and promoted among possible candidates, their influence on limitation of academics’ mobility and weakening universities offer. From the organizational side Fundacja “Fundusz Pomocy Studentom” (Foundation Student Help Fund, FSP) was in charge. As they underline, they don’t wish to condemn particular universities but the fails of the system. Authors of the report pointed out the problem of staged competitions for academic teachers or recruitment criteria which are, contrary to Bolonia System, constructed to promote alumni of the particular university during recruitment for II and III cycle degree’s.

Author: Karolina Banasiak

Translation: Urszula Winecka

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