REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9
OF THE CONVENTION
Sixteenth periodic reports of States parties due in 2000
[23 July 2001]
* This document contains the fifteenth and sixteenth periodic reports of Poland, submitted in one document, due on 4 January 1998 and 2000 respectively. For the thirteenth and fourteenth periodic reports of Poland, submitted in one document and the summary records of the meetings at which the Committee considered that report, see documents CERD/C/299/Add.10 and CERD/C/SR.1222, 1223, 1235 and 1236.
GE.01-44886 (E) 111201
ParagraphsPage Chapter Introduction 1 3
I. GENERAL 2 - 40 3
II. DETAILED INFORMATION ON THE IMPLEMENTATION
1. Following the recommendations by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination contained in the final remarks which were presented after the consideration of the previous report, this report updates the situation and presents both the legal status as well as the implementation by Poland of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in the period from August 1997 to December 1999, taking into account the changes that took place in Polish legislation in relation to previous reports.
2. On 2 April 1997 the Constitution of the Republic of Poland was adopted by the National Assembly. It was then approved in a national referendum, which took place on 25 May 1997, and signed by the President of the Republic. The new Constitution entered into force on 17 October 1997.
B. The provisions of the Convention and the constitutional principles
3. There is full conformity between the provisions of the Convention and the principles embodied in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. The Constitution guarantees the rights provided for in the Convention.
4. The Constitution, in its article 5, imposes on the State (public authority) the obligation to ensure the freedoms and rights of persons and citizens, as well as the security of citizens.
5. This principle is also determined by a number of other provisions of the Constitution, in particular by article 2, which stipulates that the Republic of Poland is a democratic State ruled by law and implementing the principles of social justice. This provision gives rise, among other things, to the necessity to regulate the fundamental rights in the Constitution, to adopt an appropriate set of their institutional guarantees, to respect the internal morality of the law, its openness, non-contradictory character, and the prohibition of its retroactive force. Another principle related to the freedoms and rights of persons and citizens is the principle of the civic society (arts. 11-12), which should be construed as a declaration, i.e. the State’s recognition of and guarantee for civil freedoms, as well as the possibility for the citizens to participate in the shaping of State policies, to influence in a creative and free way all manifestations of social life in all its forms, which are listed in the Constitution: political parties, trade unions, foundations and other voluntary associations of citizens.
6. As regards economic principles, very important provisions are included in articles 20-24. They remove the restrictions in disposing of property, with respect to both the State as well as private sector. Their basic tenet is the protection of private property, the right of succession and the freedom of economic activity. Any restrictions in those areas may only be of exceptional character - if justified by the public good and important public reasons, to be imposed exclusively by means of a statute. In article 24 the State assumes the obligation to protect work and exercise supervision over the conditions of its performance.
7. The principle of equality of rights for churches and religious organizations, impartiality of public authorities in matters of personal conviction, whether religious or philosophical, which is one of the fundamental guarantees and a prerequisite for the freedom of the human being, has been included in article 25 of the Constitution. The freedom of faith and religion has been embodied in its article 53. It stipulates, among other things, that parents have the right to ensure their children a moral and religious upbringing and teaching in accordance with their convictions, that the religion of a church or other legally recognized religious organization may be taught in schools, however, other people’s freedom of religion and conscience may not be infringed. The freedom to publicly express religion may be limited only by statute and only where this is necessary for the defence of State security, public order, health, morals or the freedoms and rights of others. Besides, in accordance with article 53, paragraphs 6 and 7, no one may be compelled to participate or not to participate in religious practices, or be obliged by organs of public authority to disclose his philosophy of life, religious convictions or belief.
8. From the point of view of the interests of national minorities, a very important provision has been included in article 35 of the Constitution. It ensures Polish citizens belonging to national and ethnic minorities the freedom to maintain and develop their own languages, to maintain customs and traditions of their own culture. They have the right to establish educational and cultural institutions to protect religious identity, as well as to participate in the resolution of matters connected with their cultural identity.
9. With regard to the Convention, one of the most important constitutional provisions has been included in article 32, which stipulates that all persons are equal before the law, all have the right to equal treatment by public authorities and no one may be discriminated in political, social or economic life for any reason whatsoever.
10. Any infringement of those and other rights of persons and citizens constitutes infringement of the Constitution and is regarded as an offence. Any interference with the sphere of freedom, whether by an act of the executive or legislative authority may only take place in the cases enumeratively listed in the Constitution, and only where this is necessary for the protection of security or public order, or for the protection of the natural environment, health or public morals, or the freedoms and rights of other persons (art. 31).
The new Constitution also includes provisions which ensure the protection of rights and freedoms.
12. According to article 79, paragraph 1, of the Constitution, everyone whose constitutional freedoms or rights have been infringed has the right to appeal to the Constitutional Tribunal for its judgement on the conformity to the Constitution of a statute or another normative act upon which basis a court or organ of public administration has made a final decision on his freedoms or rights or on his obligations as specified in the Constitution. However, the right to appeal may be asserted after all the available means of legal protection have already been exhausted, and specifically after the relevant court or administrative procedures have been gone through.
13. The Constitution, in its article 80, stipulates that everyone has the right to apply to the Commissioner for Citizen’s Rights for assistance in protection of his freedoms or rights infringed by organs of public authority. It is because the Commissioner for Citizens’ Rights safeguards the freedoms and rights of persons and citizens specified in the Constitution and other normative acts (art. 208). More information on the Commissioner for Citizens’ Rights can be found in the remarks on article 2, point G.