In its newest politically motivated ruling, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal final week dominated that the Polish Structure was not topic to EU legislation.
That is solely the latest in a collection of developments that trample on the rule of legislation and human rights in Poland, rubber stamped by a tribunal riddled with ruling Legislation and Justice (PiS)-party supporters.
A whole bunch of 1000’s of individuals are taking to the streets in Poland to protest towards this.
Authorities have responded with detentions and bodily violence paying homage to their response to the pro-abortion protests in October 2020.
9 individuals have been detained to this point, together with an LGBTIQ activist, and authorities have taken down the names of 71 individuals who had been protesting.
Far-right teams have once more organised counter-actions impeding peaceable protesters, with little response from police forces.
The Polish authorities has lengthy been in dispute with the EU, repeatedly refusing to implement rulings of the EU’s Courtroom of Justice, together with one to withdraw the PiS-dominated judicial Disciplinary Chamber, which threatens and intimidates Polish judges, undermining their independence.
The federal government has additionally compelled out of workplace its Ombudsman who acted as a watchdog for human rights. And it’s now working to withdraw from an internationally recognised conference defending women from violence.
The crippling of the rule of legislation is having real-life penalties for Polish residents, and women human rights defenders (WHRDs) are the most important casualties.
The 22 October 2020 Constitutional Tribunal resolution to impose a near-total ban on abortion was an enormous assault on women’s sexual and reproductive rights.
The result’s agonising for women and their households. Some are compelled to proceed pregnancies towards their will, together with in instances of deadly or extreme foetal impairment.
Others don’t have any selection however to journey overseas to hunt care, if they’ve the monetary means to take action, or to hunt unsafe abortions.
The ban needlessly elevated the suffering of women and sparked huge protests all through the nation.
And a 12 months after these protests, WHRDs face many threats and assaults each from the state and non-state teams.
The abortion ban has helped create a local weather that’s extra permissive of assaults on women’s rights. The authorities have repeatedly used extreme drive and bodily violence towards protesters, who’ve been focused by law enforcement officials.
WHRDs are dealing with prison prices from politically appointed prosecutors, whereas prices towards police and far-right teams who perpetrated violence towards them are being dropped.
WHRDs’ lives proceed to be threatened by extremists.
Many have been on the receiving finish of rape and loss of life threats and bomb scares over their activism.
Their monetary livelihoods have been affected, with some women dropping their jobs or being publicly ostracised for their participation in protests. Many are on the point of psychological and emotional burnout.
That is the heavy worth that Polish women are paying for making an attempt to face up for the rule of legislation and civic freedoms in the face of the federal government’s onslaught.
Marta Lempart, co-founder of the Polish Women’s Strike (Strajk Kobiet) just lately advised the European Parliament concerning the penalties of ongoing activism: “This is hard … We lose our jobs, our families suffer, we are being detained, we are being beaten up, we are tear gassed, we put our bodies on the line, we put our lives on the line”, she mentioned.
“The Polish state treats us as enemies … We are freedom fighters,” Lempart mentioned.
Lempart is dealing with near 80 prison prices for her personal position in the protests. The costs towards her are undoubtedly an try to silence and intimidate her and different WHRDs.
Lempart has not been in a position to return to her dwelling as a result of she “fears being killed”.
Nadia, a 21-year outdated WHRD, additionally obtained loss of life and rape threats. “Every time I check my email and see another threat, I become more and more frightened and overwhelmed,” the activist mentioned.
The authorities are not providing the women any safety from violence. The degradation of the rule of legislation in Poland solely makes such assaults extra possible, and makes it much less possible that perpetrators shall be held to account.
Regardless of these life-altering circumstances, WHRDs are demonstrating that the battle is much from over. WHRDs from the Polish Women’s Strike have been amassing signatures all through this month for a invoice that might reverse the abortion ban.
A complete of 100,000 citizen signatures must be collected for the brand new invoice to be launched to the meeting for debate.
Enhance EU help
Polish WHRDs are seeking to the EU to face up for their rights, however the latest Constitutional Tribunal ruling as soon as once more demonstrates the Polish authorities’s full disregard for EU guidelines and values.
The federal government continues to ask for enormous quantities of help from the EU’s Covid Restoration Fund at the same time as it’s, in impact, making an attempt to unilaterally renegotiate the phrases of its membership, and undermining the impartial judicial oversight that safeguards towards corruption.
However many Polish residents are saying sufficient is sufficient. Simply as they massively protested towards the abortion ban, lots of of 1000’s of individuals took to the streets throughout Poland final weekend to protest towards a ‘authorized Polexit’.
The EU should stand with Polish residents in this battle. Polish WHRDs and residents want greater than statements from EU leaders: they want safety, sources, steady strain, and pressing motion.
Whereas the rule of legislation stays underneath assault, the EU should not again down. It should proceed to withhold the restoration funding and should instantly impose situations on different EU cash going to Poland.
These funds ought to bypass the federal government and be redirected to Polish teams who respect and uphold EU values.
This implies the EU should urgently enhance its monetary help for civil society and WHRDs on the bottom. Their survival is essential to the survival of the rule of legislation in Poland, and to any hopes the EU has of creating its values depend for one thing.