Poland: Appealing against a ban on an assembly
During its last session, the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament passed amendments to the Assemblies Act. The new restrictions are unnecessary and excessive.
Thursday, 19 July 2012, by Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
This modification stemmed from the obligation to implement the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgment in the case Bączkowski and Others v. Poland which requires that the final decision regarding the refusal of permission to hold an assembly must be issued before its planned date.
The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights' (HFHR) opinion, the amendments to the Assemblies Act cannot be regarded as a correct implementation of the ECHR judgment. Pursuant to international standards, the final decision regarding the refusal of permission to hold an assembly should be made by way of a court decision. The amendment to the Assemblies Act, however, grants this right to the Province Governor who is a public administration body. This regulation fails to satisfy the criterion of independence. As a result, the amendment to the Assemblies Act, passed by the Sejm, does not solve the problem raised in the case Bączkowski and Others v. Poland, and in fact lowers the standards pertaining to holding peaceful assemblies.
The proper standard for appealing against the bans on assemblies is in force e.g. in Germany. In the case of being confronted with a refusal to hold an assembly, the organisers have the right to appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court which, by way of a temporary order, may revoke the unfavourable decision before the assembly’s planned date.
HFHR is of the opinion that giving the right shape to the system of appellate measures requires a departure from the current model. We suggest that the appeals against the refusal of permission to hold an assembly should be submitted to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court should have a possibility to issue an order before the planned date of the assembly.
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Call to UN Special Rapporteur
HFHR issued a call to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association to react to the draft law on assemblies as adopted by the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament.