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Civic Nation Unity in Deversity

Application of Legislation, Criminal Cases, Court Rulings

Application of Legislation, Criminal Cases, Court Rulings

In February 2013 the Council of Ministers created a Council to prevent racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It coordinates the actions of the authorities in this area, monitors the situation, etc. The Council consists of representatives from 28 departments and 14 ministers.

In February 2015, the Council of Ministers adopted a plan of action for official bodies represented on the Council to Combat Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia. The Council was established in February 2015. It consists of representatives of all ministries and departments. Its main tasks are as follows: media monitoring, monitoring of racist and xenophobic incidents, monitoring of intolerance based on racism and xenophobia in the public sphere, organization of educational campaigns.

In 2011, a directive was issued by the public prosecutor on improved investigation of hate crimes. In 2013, the General Prosecutor's Office requested to organise a special office in every area for investigation of crimes due to xenophobia. On September 24 and 26, the General Prosecutor's Office has organised courses for prosecutors on hate crimes . In October 2014, Attorney General Andrzej Seremet issued a manual on the case of hate crimes related to the Internet. In March 2015, the General Prosecutor's Office organized a training session on hate crimes for low-ranking prosecutors. In September 2013, the police, in cooperation with the Ombudsman and NGOs, published a textbook on combating discrimination for the police.

Protection of victims from discrimination and hate crimes is also done by the Ombudsman. According to Article 208 of the Constitution, he is “the guardian of rights and freedoms of man and citizen specified in the Constitution and other regulations” . The Ombudsman's job is described by a law enacted in 1987, the Ombudsman shall be appointed for a period of 5 years by the Sejm for approval of the Senate at the request of the speaker of parliament or a group of 35 deputies. The same person cannot be the Ombudsman for more than two terms. Following the adoption of the law on the implementation of EU regulations on equal treatment in 2010, the Ombudsman received the obligations to promote anti-discrimination and the implementation of equal treatment . The Ombudsman may prepare the analyses and observations of the situations, conduct independent research on discrimination, publish relevant reports and recommendations. The Commissioner is preparing a National Action Programme on equal treatment and provides an annual report on its implementation . Unfortunately, it should be noted that the Labour Inspectorate, being without powers of authority, verifies the presence/absence of discrimination . In Poland, there is no system of support for victims of hate crimes and it is carried out only by a few NGOs, which is clearly insufficient . The reluctance of law enforcement agencies to deal with hate crimes (see next section for more details) can also be noted.

On June 14, 2014 Polish railway stations broadcasted the message reminding about the 74th anniversary of Polish deportations to Auschwitz. “The day of deportation of Poles to Auschwitz is considered the beginning of functioning of this Nazi camp, where 150 thousand Poles were convicted and 75 thousand died. Many died with a scream, “Let Poland live!” We will never forget about them” .

Since 2001, the government has taken a number of initiatives to alleviate the plight of the Roma, by providing access to education, social and health services, etc.

On November 28, 2013 The Ministry of Justice held a meeting with representatives of non-governmental organisations on the draft guidelines for the government on amendment of the laws for regularisation of the situation of transgender people and get them a legal possibility of identity change. According to the monitoring of temporary detention centres conducted by NGOs in January-February 2014, in recent years the situation there has significantly improved. Migrants can move freely throughout the centre; temporary restrictions on walks were lifted, frequency of inspections was reduced.

On December 9, 2014 Constitutional Tribunal issued a verdict regarding the ritual slaughter of cattle. According to the court, the ban on the ritual slaughter of cattle is contrary to the constitution of the country and discriminates against Jews in social and economic life The decision does not have any specific requirements regarding the number of cattle that can be slaughtered, which according to some judges can lead to permission of commercial ritual slaughter of cattle to produce Kosher and Halal meats .

Since mid-2013, in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration, the Office of the Ombudsman has been implementing the project “Strengthening the management of migration”. The project provides for the establishment of training centres for detention of foreigners, social welfare centres, as well as teachers, doctors, police representatives to work with migrants. Council for Migrants operating under the Ombudsman produced a brochure “How to use an amnesty” per the request to foreigners. In September, the police, in cooperation with the Ombudsman and NGOs issued a textbook on anti-discrimination for police officers.

Authorities were able to prevent the growth of disturbances in Andrychów. As of June 13, 2014 due to the order of General Mariusz Donbeka, the Lesser Poland police commander, the patrols were reinforced in the city . 50 policemen from Krakow arrived to help, a special investigation team was set up. Tomasz Zak, the mayor of Andrychów, declared zero tolerance for persons of any nationality, who allow themselves to break the law. According to the mayor, the number of surveillance cameras will increase as will the control over the town.

On March 26, 2014 Council of Warmia and Mazury unanimously voted against the Pieniężno city council decision to dismantle the monument to Soviet General Ivan Chernyakhovskiy (1906-1945) . Mayor of Sopot personally visited a restaurant that was displaying a Russophobic sign and made sure it was taken.

On September 25, 2015, the Polish parliament adopted amendments to the Law on National, Ethnic Minorities and Regional Languages of January 6, 2005. Deputies approved the text of Art. 9 of the Law on Supporting Languages. It says that the minority language can be used in relations with municipal authorities along with the state language. This advantage applies to those municipalities where the number of minority representatives whose language is “supportive” exceeds 20% of the population. However, the country's president, Andrzej Duda, vetoed the bill motivated by “the high cost of its application.

On May 26, 2015, Polish parliament rejected an additional agenda item concerning law on civil partnerships. 146 of the MP’s voted in favour and 215 against the proposal – with 24 abstentions.

According to the Police statistics, 262 proceedings have been initiated and 229 criminal offences have been observed concerning violation of article 257 of the Penal Code (public insult of a person or group of people on grounds of their national, ethnic, race, religious belonging or for a reason of lack of any religious denomination). There were 4 cases related to religious discrimination, 16 cases of violation of freedom to perform religious rites, and 55 cases of insult of religious feelings.

Annually, several dozen people are convicted for hate crimes (in 2011, 40 cases were examined in court, 75 in 2012, and 154 in 2014), but the media does not cover all cases. On February 19, 2013, two of the nationalists who tore off Professor M. Shroda's lecture were fined 500 zł.

In May, 2013, the court sentenced persons who desecrated a Jewish cemetery in Krasnik, sentencing them to payment of damages .

On August 13 the court acquitted antifascists, who were accused of destroying two police vehicles during clashes with neo-Nazis in Poznan .

The reluctance of law enforcement, bordering on connivance of xenophobia, to seriously deal with cases of hate crimes should be noted. Although Article 52 of the Criminal Code states that the court must take into account the motivation of the perpetrator, however, as a racism motivation was not mentioned, the courts preferred not to consider these aspects of the crime.

There is a low detection rate of hate crimes (in 2010-2012 it was within 17-26%). In January, police of the Bialystok region stopped the investigation of the desecration of synagogues in Orly due to the inability to find the culprits. The same thing happened in April in Myslenice, and in September in Zamosc .

The cases of direct connivance of law enforcement agencies xenophobia are recorded, too.On June 21, a court in Poland ruled that there is no reason to exclude the new anti-Semitic party from the registration list. Prosecutor’s Office refused to remove the party “Union of Slavic Empires”, which professes aggressive nationalism, because “none of the prosecutors filed a complaint against it .

The police tried to write off the desecration of the Uniate Church in Trzebiatów for “disorderly conduct” and did not attempt to apprehend the offender, despite the fact that culprit's identity was known .

In July, 2013 the district court in Bialystok decided not to prosecute a border officer who called Chechen people “lazy Caucasians”, “supporters of paedophiles”, “parasitic scum” on the Internet considering that all the statements were expression of freedom of speech. At the same time the regional prosecutor of Bialystok refused to launch an investigation into the swastika on the wall, explaining that the swastika is a symbol of happiness in Asia . In response to the Ombudsman upon humiliation of a transsexual at the hands of police in November 2013, the police said they allegedly did not find any evidence of this .

Already in January 2014 a prosecutor in Poznan stopped the investigation of the case of anti-Semitic chants of football fans, on the pretext that they the fans of the “opposing” club were not Jewish.

On December 8, 2014, five attackers on the Antifa camp in 2012 pled guilty during the trial in Wroclaw. They were sentenced to 6 months in prison, suspended for 3 years, and a fine of 300 to 500 zlotys.

One can note the reluctance of law enforcement agencies, bordering on the connivance of xenophobia, to seriously deal with cases of hate crimes. Although Article 52 of the Criminal Code states that the court must take into account the motivation of the offender, racist motivation are not mentioned, and courts prefer not to take into account these aspects of crimes.

There is a low detection of hate crimes (in 2010-2012, within the limits of 17-26%). In January 2013, police stopped an investigation into the desecration of synagogues in Orel for the impossibility of tracing the perpetrators. The same thing happened in April 2013 in Myslennitsah, and in September 2013, in Zamosc. The problem of police qualification of hate crimes as everyday crime is still a big problem. Sometimes the police take this step because of the reluctance to “mess with politics”, as well as due to a low level of professionalism, not the ability to distinguish one from another.

The cases of direct connivance of law enforcement agencies xenophobia are recorded, too.On June 21, a court in Poland ruled that there is no reason to exclude the new anti-Semitic party from the registration list. Prosecutor’s Office refused to remove the party “Union of Slavic Empires”, which professes aggressive nationalism, because “none of the prosecutors filed a complaint against it .

The police tried to write off the desecration of the Uniate Church in Trzebiatów for “disorderly conduct” and did not attempt to apprehend the offender, despite the fact that culprit's identity was known .

In July, 2013, the district court in Bialystok decided not to prosecute a border officer who called Chechen people “lazy Caucasians”, “supporters of paedophiles”, “parasitic scum” on the Internet considering that all the statements were expression of freedom of speech. At the same time the regional prosecutor of Bialystok refused to launch an investigation into the swastika on the wall, explaining that the swastika is a symbol of happiness in Asia . In response to the Ombudsman upon humiliation of a transsexual at the hands of police in November 2013, the police said they allegedly did not find any evidence of this .

On May 26, 2014, Court of Kielce rejected the claim by Malgozata Marenin (head of the regional department of Your Movement) against Mr Korvin-Mikke, who made statements denying the Holocaust. The court referred to Article 111 of the Electoral Code and the decision of the Cracow Court of Appeal in September 2012 and ruled that these were “evaluative judgments of a public figure participating in the elections” and cannot be the subject to judicial review.

On September 30, Disciplinary Court of Appeal in Bialystok acquitted a Prosecutor of North Bialystok who refused to institute criminal proceedings with regard to public display of swastika, which according to him is not directly related to fascism. Watchdog institution did not agree with this argument and the case was eventually initiated .

Law enforcement is not reacting to hate speech online. For example, despite the sentencing of three people who launched a website promoting racial discrimination, the website is still available for viewing.

At least four extreme right organisations are still actively functioning across Poland, despite the 2009 Brzeg Court ruling to prohibit one such organisation for promoting fascism and totalitarianism.

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