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Human rights ombudsman: space for civil society in Poland diminishes

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TVN24 News in English, PAP
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The space for civil society in Poland is diminishing, among other things due to problems with access to media, especially public, as well as restrictions over NGO financing - Poland's Commissioner for Human Rights (RPO) Adam Bodnar said at a conference in Brussels.

The Commissioner for Human Rights took part in a seminar in Brussels organised by the INGOs Conference of the Council of Europe: "From the Past to the Future: A Living Civic Space for a Living Democracy". It was organised to mark the World NGO Day.

Mr Bodnar said he agreed with the report by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency claiming the space for civil society in Poland was diminishing. He added that this was due to a number of factors, among others, problems with access to media, especially public, which had become an "instrument for government propaganda".

"Leaders of some NGOs have become targets and are persecuted in various ways, especially those who are dealing with more sensitive groups, such as LGBTI leaders or organisations helping immigrants or refugees. There are restrictions over financing of NGOs" - he said.

Adam Bodnar mentioned three organisatons which - he stressed - were not considered typical civil society organisations: Iustitia, Themis and Lex Super Omnia. The first two being judges associations, and the third one - association of prosecutors.

These organisations, Mr Bodnar said, "defend not only their own standpoint, which is under threat, but also key principles for the whole society".

The commissioner also said these organisations "are subjected to huge pressure. (...) Especially, judges are subject to hate campaigns in the media, especially public".

He mentioned the latest case of a judge who has been suspended by the disciplinary chamber. "Yesterday, an outstanding judge, about whom the "New York Times" has written about, judge (Igor) Tuleya, (...) was subjected to the procedure of waiving his immunity" - he said.

In conclusion, he stressed: "Without independent courts, independent prosecutors, fundamental values of civil society, such as freedom of speech, association and assembly will disappear".


Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP