Human rights in Poland

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Human rights in Poland are guaranteed by the second chapter of the Constitution of Poland.


Elements of what is called now human rights may be found in early times of the Polish state. Both Statute of Kalisz - the General Charter of Jewish Liberties (issued in 1264) introduced numerous right for the Jews in Poland, leading to an autonomous "nation within a nation", and Warsaw Confederation (1573) confirmed the religious freedom of all residents of Poland, which was extremely important for the stability of the multi-ethnic Polish society of the time.

Modern times[edit]

Poland is a party to all important international agreements relevant to human rights, including the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Helsinki Accords, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Death Penalty is abolished for all crimes[1] and Poland has ratified the International Criminal Court agreement. Corporal punishment is entirely prohibited since 2010.

In general knowledge human rights have vastly improved after the fall of communism in 1989 and replacement of the old repressive regime with the modern, democratic government guaranteeing first class civil and political rights,[2] according to the Freedom House.

Modern Poland is a country with a high level of freedom of expression,[3] guaranteed by the article 25 (section I. The Republic) of the Constitution of Poland:

Public authorities in the Republic of Poland shall be impartial in matters of personal conviction, whether religious or philosophical, or in relation to outlooks on life, and shall ensure their freedom of expression within public life.

as well as the article Article 54 (section II. The Freedoms, Rights and Obligations of Persons and Citizens):

1. The freedom to express opinions, to acquire and to disseminate information shall be ensured to everyone.
2. Preventive censorship of the means of social communication and the licensing of the press shall be prohibited.

The state of women's rights in Poland is moderately good. Feminism in Poland started in 1800s. However, prior to the Partition in 1795, tax-paying females were allowed to take part in political life, and since 1918, all women can vote, Poland being 15th country[4] to introduce universal women's suffrage. Nevertheless, there is a number of issues concerning women such as the abortion rights (allowed only in few circumstances) and the "glass ceiling" [5][6]

Poland country signed the LGBT rights Declaration, but some rights of heterosexual citizens, such as marriage equality are unavailable to its LGBT citizens. Poland is not on the list of countries with state-sponsored homophobia. Homosexuality in Poland was never criminalised under Polish jurisdiction, and it was confirmed legal in 1932. Poland also recognises gender change and requires no sterilisation of trans citizens.[7] A transgender Pole Anna Grodzka has become an MP in the 2011 Polish parliamentary elections, and currently is the only transgender MP in the world.

Serfdom was officially banned in 1588.[8] It has been ranked 61st in the report studying slavery by the Walk Free Foundation.[9] Poland belongs to the group of 'Tier 1'[10] countries in Trafficking in Persons Report. Trafficking women is 'illegal and rare'.[11]

Corporal punishment of children is officially prohibited since 1783[12] in schools and criminalised since 2010 (in schools as well as at home).[13]

Third-party evaluation[edit]

A 2010 report by United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor noted that "Poland's government generally respects the human rights of its citizens"; it did however note problems, mainly police misconduct, lengthy pretrial detention, laws that restricted free speech (although rarely enforced), corruption in the government and society.[14]

Opinions of NGOs[edit]

According to the report Political Terror Scale 2006 is generated by Mark Gibney, Belk Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of North Carolina at Asheville Poland was among countries with highest level of human rights.[15]

Freedom House Research Institute has classified Poland as a country of first class political and civil rights.[2]

According to the Global peace Index, Poland is one of the most peaceful countries in the world.[16]


Domestic Violence[17]

One in five consider domestic violence to be the norm in Polish society. Thirty eight percent of Poles know at least one family where physical violence occurs, and seven percent claimed to know of at least one family where sexual violence takes place, according to a survey carried out in November by research centre SMG KRC on behalf of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

The survey indicates that 27 percent of respondents are reluctant to act against apparent abusers, for fear that the violence might be transferred onto themselves, while 17 percent felt that raising the matter would exacerbate the problem for the initial victim.

One in four of those surveyed feel that there is no obligation on neighbours or acquaintances to act when domestic violence is brought to their notice, believing that it is difficult to judge which party is in the right.

Forty three percent of those surveyed declared that interventions in family matters is only permissible when someone asks for help and 14 percent of third parties said there was no point in reporting such as case, as the victim would inevitably withdraw from legal action regardless.

Some 13 percent said that such abuse is a private family matter.

At the same time, 16 percent said that there are situations when violence is justified in the home.

Some 26 percent of Poles claim that they have been victims of physical violence.

Rape and sexual harassment

Both crimes went underreported due to societal views.[18] However, in January 2014, a reform was introduced to both simplify the procedure as well as make it a criminal offence pursued by the state, rather than a private act of accusal.[19]


Due to perceptions of women's roles, unemployment for women is high.[20]


An abortion is very difficult to obtain in Poland.[21]


There is controversy of ill treatment on the border of Poland as well as in prisons.[22] Black sites were established by CIA in the territory of Poland.

Further information: Black_site § Europe

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Agnieszka Bieńczyk-Missala, Human Rights in Polish Foreign Policy after 1989, Warszawa 2006, ISBN 83-89607-46-8, [4]
  • James E. Will, Church and State in the Struggle for Human Rights in Poland, Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 2, No. 1 (1984), pp. 153–176 (article consists of 24 pages), JSTOR


  1. ^ "Poland - Amnesty International Report 2010 | Amnesty International". Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  2. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  3. ^
  4. ^ or 12th sovereign country
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Dembkowski, Harry E. (1982). The union of Lublin, Polish federalism in the golden age. East European Monographs, 1982. p. 271. ISBN 978-0-88033-009-1. 
  9. ^ Global Slavery Index 2013 [2]. Walk Free Foundation. Retrieved 10 April 2014
  10. ^ Tier 1: Countries whose governments fully comply with the TVPA's minimum standards.
  11. ^
  12. ^ as the first country in the world
  13. ^
  14. ^ "2010 Human Rights Report: Poland". 2011-04-08. Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  15. ^ [3][dead link]
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Domestic violence rife in Poland, research finds - National". Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  18. ^ "2010 Human Rights Report: Poland". 2011-04-08. Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  19. ^,103085,15346565,Gwalciciel_bedzie_teraz_scigany_z_urzedu___To_zmiana.html#BoxSlotII3img
  20. ^ "Women’s status in Poland: a permanent crisis". Social Watch. 2009-11-03. Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "CPT Report: Poland: Visit 26/11/2009 - 08/12/2009". Retrieved 2012-08-06. 

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