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Democratic institutions concerned with Poland's ombudsman institution crisis

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Autor:
gf
Źródło:
TVN24 News in English, osce.org
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"We reiterate our strong support for the Office of the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, an ombudsman institution, equality body, and accredited as A-status NHRI, in its work to promote and protect human rights and equality in Poland in an independent and effective manner" - the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions, the European Network of Equality Bodies, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, the International Ombudsman Institute, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the Regional Office for Europe said in a joint statement.

On Thursday Poland's upper house, the Senate, rejected the ruling PiS party's candidate for the Commissioner for Human Rights. Therefore, Bartłomiej Wróblewski became a third candidate rejected either by the Sejm or the Senate.

The lower house, where the ruling coalition has a majority of votes, had twice rejected the opposition candidate Zuzanna Rudzińska-Bluszcz. The previous PiS-backed candidate, Piotr Wawrzyk had been rejected by the upper house.

The term of the current ombudsman Adam Bodnar's term ended in September, 2020, but because no replacement has been appointed so far, he remains in office.

In April, the Constitutional Court ruled that the provision allowing the ombudsman to remain in office until a successor has been appointed was unconstitutional.

"We, the undersigned organizations, wish to emphasize that an effective and independent National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), ombudsman institution and equality body are necessary features of any democratic State, underpinning human rights, good governance and justice. In this context, we reiterate our strong support for the Office of the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, an ombudsman institution, equality body, and accredited as A-status NHRI, in its work to promote and protect human rights and equality in Poland in an independent and effective manner" - the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions, the European Network of Equality Bodies, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, the International Ombudsman Institute, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the Regional Office for Europe said in a joint statement.

"We wish to express our concern regarding developments that may threaten the work of this important institution" - they signatories added.

Furthermore, they mentioned "that the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland delivered a judgment declaring that Article 3, paragraph 6 of the Act on the Commissioner for Human Rights of Poland, which provides that the Commissioner will remain in office until the new office-holder is appointed, is unconstitutional" and "that the existing transitional provision shall cease to apply three months after 15 April 2021, the date when this decision was published in the Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland".

"In light of this, we are concerned that should a successor not be appointed within this three-month period, the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, will have to function without a Commissioner, seriously limiting its effectiveness as an institution and negatively impacting the promotion and protection of human rights in Poland" - the organisations said.

As a result, the signatories "call upon the Polish authorities to ensure an orderly transition to a new Commissioner for Human Rights and to provide for continuity, ensuring the effective and independent functioning of the institution throughout this process".

"We stand ready to support, assist and advise all Polish authorities involved in the selection and appointment of the new Commissioner for Human Rights in ensuring that this process fully complies with international standards and best practices" - the six organisations concluded.

READ THE JOINT STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE OFFICE OF THE POLISH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Autor:gf

Źródło: TVN24 News in English, osce.org

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