on the new amendment
to Polish Code of Criminal Procedure
14 August 2019
The members of the JUSTICIA European Rights Network (a coalition of the European leading civil liberties organizations working on the right to a fair trial) express their deep concerns regarding the compatibility of an amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure with international law standards, since it will allow public authorities to arbitrarily deprive individuals of liberty and their right to appeal against conviction.
Under the amendment, public prosecutors will have a final say in some cases concerning pre-trial detention. Moreover, the adopted amendment will also allow appeal courts to sentence a person whom a first instance court had previously conditionally discontinued criminal proceedings and imposed probation measures. Furthermore, the amended CCP will not provide for any possibility for such a person to appeal their conviction.
Finally, the adopted amendment will, in some extraordinary cases, allow criminal courts to conduct the evidentiary proceedings without the presence of both the defendant and the defence counsel, even when their absence is justified.
The JUSTICIA European Rights Network considers that none of the solutions adopted in the amendment can be reconciled with the requirements of the right to a fair trial.
The members of the JUSTICIA European Rights Network (a coalition of the European leading civil liberties organizations working on the right to a fair trial) would like to express their deep concerns regarding the recent Polish Parliament decision to adopt an amendment to the Criminal Code introducing a possibility to sentence a convict for a whole life sentence.
Pursuant to the newly adopted provision the Criminal Court will have a power to exclude the possibility of conditionalearly release whenever the nature or circumstances of convict’s crime, as well as its personal characteristics, indicate that the convicted person’srelease from prison will result in a permanent threat to the life, health, liberty orsexual freedom of any other person. Moreover, the Court will also be able to make a similar decision in the case of convicts who were previously sentenced to life imprisonment.The JUSTICIA European Rights Network would like to emphasize that these provisions raise serious concerns regarding theircompatibility with the Conventionfor the Protection of Human Rightsand Fundamental Freedoms(the “Convention”). The European Court of Human Rights has on numerous occasionspointed out that all life prisoners cannot be denied a prospect of a release and they should have a possibility to apply for the review of their sentence1.Otherwise, their punishment will result in inhuman treatment violating requirements arising from art. 3 of the Convention. This is also required by other international human rights standards. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, for example,indicates that the essential aim of the penitentiary system should be a prisoner’s reformation and social rehabilitation. Moreover, theCouncil of 1See e.g.: ECtHR judgement (Grand Chamber) of 9 July 2013 in the case Vinter and Others v. the United Kingdom, application no. 66069/09; ECtHR judgement (Grand Chamber) of 26 April 2016 in the case Murray v. Netherlands, application no. 10511/10;ECtHR judgement of 4 October 2016 in the case T.P. and A.T. v. Hungary, application no. 37871/14
Europe Recommendationsindicate conditional release to be available to all sentenced prisoners, including life–sentenced prisoners2.Likewise, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CPT”) has indicated its serious reservations regarding countries which have introduced whole life sentence. In the CPT’s opinion,imprisonment for life without any real hope of releasehas constitutesinhumantreatment.3Therefore, the members of JUSTICIA European Rights Network hope that Polish authorities will revoke proposed changes in Criminal Code and ensure compliance of the national system of conditional release with the requirements of the Council of Europe. As a result, we call upon the President of Poland to veto the proposed amendment. The adoption of this law will significantly underminehuman rights in Poland. 2Recommendation Rec(2003)22 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on conditional release (parole)3Situation of life-sentenced prisoners, Extract from the 25th General Report of the CPT, published in 2016, available at: https://rm.coe.int/16806cc447
Greece’s top leaders smoke in public buildings
Dear Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis
We have very much appreciated this “EU health official slams Greek minister for defying smoking ban“.
However, things are much worse as the provocative defiance of the smoking ban characterizes generally Greek society and Greek politics all the way up to the party leaders and the President of the Republic. Please see some pictures Greek Helsinki Monitor’s Anti-smoking Advocacy Section has collected:
3. Then Minister of Migration (and former President of Doctors of the World) Yannis Mouzalas in January 2016
4. Mayor of Thessaloniki Yannis Boutaris lights up a cigarillo for the President of the Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos in October 2015
5. Party leaders meeting in the Presidential Palace in November 2015: it was widely reported in the media that Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis protested that President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and party leaders Panos Kammenos and Vasilis Leventis had turned the meeting room into a smoke-filled room. [there are no pictures]
Our section filed in January 2016 a complaint with the Supreme Court Prosecutor for the latter two incidents (of 2015) against the President, the party leaders and the mayor. See (in Greek). The Athens and Thessaloniki Prosecutors who were assigned to investigate it filed it in the archives as the law calls only for administrative fines that can be imposed only in flagrante by various public servants including police and coast guard officers. The prosecutors did not want to file charges against the public servants who were present in the two incidents but did not impose fines. Only the Athens Prosecutor gave us a copy of the filing decision that we attach here along with the complaint (both in Greek).
Moreover, it is our own experience that people smoke in most places where is it not allowed, including in police stations and in courts all the way up to the Supreme Court where even Supreme Court judges or prosecutors smoke…
We will appreciate if you can let us know what the Commission can do to help those law abiding citizens who want to see the law implemented but are powerless when faced with the persistent and deliberate failure of competent authorities to act accordingly, authorities most of whom are anyway smoking lawbreakers.
Greek Helsinki Monitor
Humanist Union of Greece
address: PO Box 60820 – GR 15304 Glyka Nera Greece
According to official Hellenic Statistical Authority data, based on information compiled by the Hellenic Police, there are around 300 court briefs opened each year with charges of blasphemy and/or other forms of disturbance of religious peace. There is however a slight decline from 297 court briefs in 2016 to 271 in 2018 (the lowest total figure was 262 in 2012 and the highest 501 in 2010).
For 2017, there were 239 court briefs for malicious blasphemy with 277 perpetrators (254 Greeks and 23 foreigners), of whom 138 were arrested (usually probably also for other offenses); and 32 other court briefs for other forms of disturbance of religious peace with 36 perpetrators (of whom 17 were arrested).
For 2016, there were 254 court briefs for malicious blasphemy with 328 perpetrators (312 Greeks and 16 foreigners), of whom 159 were arrested (usually probably also for other offenses); and 43 other court briefs for other forms of disturbance of religious peace with 58 perpetrators (of whom 46 were arrested).
For 2015, there were 315 court briefs for malicious blasphemy with 363 perpetrators (336 Greeks and 27 foreigners), of whom 197 were arrested (usually possibly also for other offenses); and 27 other court briefs for other forms of disturbance of religious peace with 15 perpetrators (of whom 10 were arrested).
For 2014, there were 345 court briefs for malicious blasphemy with 449 perpetrators (417 Greeks and 32 foreigners), of whom 221 were arrested (usually probably also for other offenses) and 32 other court briefs for other forms of disturbance of religious peace with 22 perpetrators (of whom 11 were arrested).
For 2013, there were 320 court briefs for malicious blasphemy with 388 perpetrators (364 Greeks and 24 foreigners) of whom 193 were arrested (usually probably also for other offenses) and 39 other court briefs for other forms of disturbance of religious peace with 27 perpetrators (of whom 16 were arrested).
For 2012, there were 236 court briefs for malicious blasphemy with 219 perpetrators, of whom 56 were arrested (usually probably also for other offenses) and 26 other court briefs for other forms of disturbance of religious peace with 21 perpetrators (of whom 12 were arrested).
For 2011, there were 330 court briefs for malicious blasphemy with 378 perpetrators, 122 of whom were arrested (usually possibly also for other offenses) and 33 other court briefs for other forms of disturbance of religious peace with 22 perpetrators (of whom 5 were arrested).
For 2010, there were 469 court briefs for malicious blasphemy with 532 perpetrators, of whom 118 were arrested (usually possibly also for other offenses) and 32 other court briefs for other forms of disturbance of religious peace with 28 perpetrators (of whom 6 were arrested).