Joint statement in support of the Office of the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights
Global and European human rights networks and organizations issued a statement on May 14 2021 in support of the Office of the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter supports the Statement as Chair of European Network of Equality Bodies (Equinet), one of the signatories, along with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI), International Ombudsman Institute (IOI), OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE-ODIHR) and the United Nations Human Rights European Regional Office.
In the Statement, they 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, the signed organizations reiterate 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.
“We wish to express our concern regarding developments that may threaten the work of this important institution. We note that Poland’s parliament is currently engaged in the process of selecting a new Commissioner, as the current Commissioner’s term of office came to an end on 9 September 2020. According to established law and procedure, the current Commissioner should remain in the post until a successor is appointed. We observed that on 15 April 2021, 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. The Constitutional Tribunal also ruled 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”, says the Statement.
The organizations 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.
You can read the full Statement here.