On 24 October 2016 the IOI released a report on the current constitutional situation of the office of the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights based on a Fact Finding Mission, which took place in July.
After the Polish Human Rights Commissioner and various NGO’s have repeatedly voiced their concerns, the IOI decided to go on a Fact Finding Mission to Poland in order to have a closer look on the human rights situation in the European member state.
One of the main findings of this fact finding mission to Poland that gives reason for special concern is that, at the moment, the Constitutional Court has been hampered by delays in having its judgments published, with some judgments not being published for extended periods. The IOI fears that the effort which the Ombudsman’s Office puts into preparing motions to the Constitutional Court may be in vain, if they cannot be dealt with effectively by the Court.
Furthermore, the IOI Delegation noted that reducing the Ombudsman’s budget, limiting the competences and changing the immunity provisions are symptomatic for a lack of respect and support for accountability mechanisms, the Polish Constitution, international best practice and the rule of law.
Therefore the IOI recommendations include:
- To increase the support for the Commissioner for Human Rights by ensuring access to court.
- To ensure that the Commissioner for Human Rights is equipped with sufficient financial and staff resources.
- To oppose and condemn personal attacks against the Commissioner for Human Rights.
- To emphasize vis-à-vis international and regional organizations, e.g. the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the importance of supporting the Commissioner for Human Rights in order to secure his continuing independence.
For the past years the IOI has been repeatedly informed about difficult circumstances that pose a threat to the independent work of Ombudspersons around the world. As the only global organization for the promotion of Ombudsman institutions, the IOI takes these menaces very seriously and supports its member institutions in every possible way.
The IOI therefore expresses its hope that the report will not only raise the attention of the politicians in charge but that the IOI’s efforts will also actively contribute to better working circumstances for the Polish Commissioner of Human Rights.