POLAND: Human rights in Poland are being violated
March 28, 2023
Courtesy of the Warsaw Voice [https://www.warsawvoice.pl]
Restrictions on journalists’ work and freedom of expression are among the most significant human rights violations in Poland, says a US State Department report. In November 2021, in the village of Wiejki, a group of soldiers allegedly forcibly dragged three photojournalists out of a car, cuffed them and showered them with vulgarities. The journalists were near the Polish-Belarusian border to cover the migrant crisis, but the detention occurred outside the state of emergency. Last February, the prosecutor’s office refused to investigate the soldiers’ behavior, but its decision was later overturned by a court. This is one of the cases that found its way into the State Department’s annual study on human rights in Poland. The Department publishes such reports, on various countries, every year. It notes in them, among other things, possible cases of killings for which the state is responsible, torture, restrictions on religious freedom or discrimination against minorities. In its most recent report on Poland, the Department discussed at exceptional length the problems the media have. The chapter titled "Freedom of expression, including representatives of the press and other media," begins with the takeover of regional newspapers owned by Polska Press by state oil giant PKN Orlen. Although this occurred back in 2021, State Department experts noted that last year, which the report discusses, a court dismissed the Ombudsman’s complaint over the takeover of the publishing house. The report goes on to describe the 19-month-long process of renewing the license for private television news channel TVN 24. The Americans noted the court ruling, which showed that the delay by the National Broadcasting Council (NBC) was a flagrant violation of the law. Further down in the study is information about restrictions on journalists’ work in connection with the crisis on the border with Belarus. "There were reports that journalists were subjected to violence, harassment or intimidation by the authorities because of their work," it wrote. In addition to the incident in the village of Wiejki, they discuss other examples, including the detention of a Franco-German Arte TV crew that was mistakenly in a state of emergency zone. The human rights violations don’t end with problems with the media. Among other things, the report also lists "problems with the independence of the judiciary," "significant barriers to access to sexual and reproductive health services," or "violent crimes or threats of violence against members of ethnic minorities," among others, as significant problems.
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