OSCE: European human rights officials urge Polish parliament to reconsider amendments to the law governing public assemblies

Members of parliament raise their hands during a vote at a session of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, Warsaw, 22 February 2013. (Polish parliament/Krzysztof Białoskó

Members of parliament raise their hands during a vote at a session of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, Warsaw, 22 February 2013. (Polish parliament/Krzysztof Białoskó

WARSAW / STRASBOURG, 05-Dec-2016 — /EuropaWire/ — European human rights officials today expressed serious concern over legal amendments passed last week in the Polish Sejm that could undermine the right to freedom of assembly if they become law.

Urging the Polish parliament to reconsider amendments to the law governing public assemblies, Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Polish authorities to allow more time for consultation with civil society and other groups that will be affected by the changes.

“The freedom of peaceful assembly is protected, indeed guaranteed, by United Nations, Council of Europe, and OSCE commitments and legal standards,” said ODIHR Director Link. “Given the implications of these amendments for the right of peaceful assembly, which must be guaranteed and promoted, it is vital that legislation that could limit this right should not be adopted too hastily, and should undergo extensive consultations with civil society and other key stakeholders before being adopted.”

“These amendments should not be adopted as such, as they would restrict unnecessarily and in a disproportionate way the possibility for a large part of the population to enjoy their human right to freedom of assembly, in disregard of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights,” Commissioner Muižnieks said.

They highlighted, in particular, that the amendments give priority to gatherings organized by public authorities, churches and religious organizations, and to so-called “recurrent assemblies” – those that take place on a regular basis – to the possible detriment of the right of individuals and other groups to organize assemblies including to protest in relation to current public issues.

The amendments were passed in the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, last Wednesday, and will be subject to debate in the Polish Senate this week.

SOURCE: OSCE

Contacts
Thomas Rymer
Spokesperson
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)
Ul. Miodowa 10
00-251 Warsaw
Poland
Office: +48 22 520 0640
Mobile: +48 609 522 266
Thomas.Rymer@odihr.pl

OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
Public Affairs Unit
Ul. Miodowa 10
00-251 Warsaw
Poland
Office: +48 22 520 06 00
Fax: +48 22 520 06 05
PublicAffairs@odihr.pl

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