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Visual Report: “Zone of Hidden Violence”. 3D-Reconstruction documenting violations of human rights and pushbacks in the Polish-Belarusian border area

August 2022 marks 12 months of the humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border. Responding to the need to document testimonies of torture, violations of human rights, and violence, the Border Emergency Collective has entered a collaboration with the Helsinki Foundation For Human Rights, the Polish Hospitality Foundation, and the NOMADA Association, to develop a visual […]

The Lawless Zone -12 months of the Polish-Belarusian border crisis

It has been one year since the Polish-Belarusian border crisis started. The HFHR releases an English version of the report “The Lawless Zone”, which covers the monitoring activities at the border from autumn 2021 to June 2022. The final part contains recommendations for Polish authorities and the EU.  In June 2022, the Helsinki Foundation for […]

Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court revokes the suspension of Judge Juszczyszyn

On 23 May 2022, the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court adopted a resolution to revoke the suspension of a judge of the District Court in Olsztyn, Paweł Juszczyszyn, from his official duties, assessing the measure as excessively long-term and interfering with the constitutional principle of the irremovability of judges. Having been suspended for more […]

Pandemic versus freedom of assembly. The European Court of Human Rights to assess a possible Poland’s infringement

The Strasbourg Court will consider an application submitted by a Polish national who alleges that COVID restrictions on the organisation of public protests violated their right to peaceful assembly. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights prepared an amicus curiae brief for the Court in which it compared the measures in place during the pandemic with […]

Abortion Dream Team activist accused of aiding an abortion. HFHR submits an amicus curiae brief

Justyna, an activist with the Abortion Dream Team, has been charged with aiding an abortion because she gave abortion pills to a woman who decided to terminate her pregnancy. The HFHR has filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, indicating that Poland is one of the few countries in Europe with strict anti-abortion laws, […]

A state of accusation. Polish prosecution service 2016-2022 – a new report of the Helsinki Foundation

The actual elimination of prosecutors’ independence, a sham change in the prosecution system, top-down control of investigations, “penal” secondments of prosecutors, rewards and promotions for a select few – this is the shortest summary of what the prosecution service has “achieved” in the past six years.   Power unchecked The reunification of the positions of […]

The humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border drags on. Helsinki Foundation sends a report to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Migrants dumped in the forest, sham legalisation attempts, violence perpetrated by law enforcement agencies, the impossibility to provide medical assistance to exhausted people repeatedly pushed through the barbed wire on the border – these are still relevant images of the humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border. And it was these problems that the Helsinki Foundation […]

President of the Constitutional Court must provide the Helsinki Foundation with the details of changes in judicial panels, rules a Provincial Administrative Court

A Provincial Administrative Court has ordered the Constitutional Court to provide the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights with designations of cases examined by a changed composition of judges and those in which the judge rapporteur was appointed in contravention of the requirement of respecting the alphabetical order of appointments. The ruling is the result of […]

Media freedom groups urge president Duda to veto ‘Lex-TVN’

HFHR with 16 media freedom and journalist organisations wrote urgent letter to Polish president asking to apply a presidential veto to the so-called “Lex-TVN” amendment passed by the Sejm on December 17, which poses a fundamental threat to media freedom and pluralism in Poland.   Dear Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, The […]

Call on the EU: Restore rights and values at Europe’s borders

As European civil society and professional organisations working on asylum, migration, humanitarian assistance and human rights, we are shocked by the continuing humanitarian crisis at the borders between the EU and Belarus which causes immense suffering and has led to the deaths of at least ten people.   While we fully condemn the actions of […]

Has the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infected the criminal justice system? An HFHR report

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has studied how the coronavirus pandemic has been affecting the broad criminal justice system in Poland since March 2020. The findings of the Foundation’s work have been presented in the report Has the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infected the criminal justice system? HFHR’s report on how the coronavirus pandemic has affected […]

Situation on the Polish-Belarusian border

As of August 2021, Poland has experienced a sharp increase in the number of migrants irregularly crossing their external borders from the direction of Belarus. It is a result of the policy implemented by the Belarusian authorities aimed at exerting a political pressure on the EU. Lukashenko’s regime is accused of facilitating arrivals of third […]

Opinion of HFHR on the motion of the Public Prosecutor General to declare unconstitutional Art. 6 paragraph 1 of the ECHR

In July 2021, the Public Prosecutor General applied to the Constitutional Tribunal to declare unconstitutional Art. 6 paragraph 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to the extent that said provision relates to the Constitutional Tribunal (CT) and enables the European Court of Human Rights to assess the legality of the election of CT […]

Joint Statement on the Sentencing of Two Members of Human Rights Group Viasna in Belarus

Rights Organizations Call on Belarusian Authorities to End Politically Motivated Prosecutions On Wednesday, November 3, the Centraĺny District Court in Homieĺ delivered the verdict in the politically motivated criminal case against two human rights defenders with the Homieĺ branch of Viasna, a leading Belarusian human rights group. The court sentenced the head of Viasna’s Homieĺ […]

Belarus: Bar Association should reinstate disbarred lawyer Natalia Matskevich

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), European Association of Lawyers (AEA-EAL), Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR) and the Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights of the European Humanity University (CCHR EHU) and the Human Rights Embassy (HRE) (“the undersigned organisations”) call on […]

HFHR urges EU Home Affairs Commissioner to address the asylum and humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border in talks with Polish authorities

♦ The HFHR urged EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson to address the issue of the violations of asylum laws and the growing humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border in her communication with the Polish authorities. ♦ According to information from NGOs and the media, there are serious violations of asylum laws and the non-refoulment […]

On the side of the law. An analysis of the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border

Due to the migration situation on the Polish-Belarusian border, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights today published a legal analysis of the situation of foreigners repatriated by Polish Border Guard officers from Poland to Belarus. What’s next for the Usnarz group? For over four weeks, a group of 32 foreigners from Afghanistan has been staying […]

The draft amendment of the Act on Foreigners and the Act on Granting Them Protection violate EU asylum law principles – legal opinion of the HFHR

♦ The draft amendment to the Act on Foreigners and the Act on Granting them Protection in the Territory of Poland violate EU asylum law principles. The statutes may also be used to illegally expel from Polish territory foreigners who qualify for international protection – according to the HFHR legal analysis. ♦ The explanatory memorandum […]

Belarus: International human rights groups demand release of Viasna members on first anniversary of crackdown

On the first anniversary of the unprecedented crackdown on the Human Rights Center Viasna (“Viasna”) in Belarus, 23 international and Belarusian human rights organizations are launching a campaign to demand the release of seven detained Viasna members, and highlight the plight of hundreds of others, who have been prosecuted and jailed solely for exercising their […]

A tool of the government. The functioning of the Polish Constitutional Court in 2016-2021

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights published a report on the functioning of the Constitutional Court. The report describes the work of the Constitutional Court in years 2016-2021.   The role of the Constitutional Court   Before 2017, the Constitutional Court was a crucial element of the human rights protection system in Poland. The Court was the only body entitled to examine the compatibility of laws with the Constitution. Decisions issued by the Constitutional Court used to have a decisive impact on fundamental rights protection and the development of standards of a democratic state.   The constitutional crisis in Poland  The constitutional crisis in Poland resulted directly from legislative changes regarding the […]

HFHR’s position statement on the Prosecutor General’s request for the constitutional review of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights submitted to the Polish Constitutional Court

For almost 30 years, the European Convention on Human Rights has been a cornerstone of the protection of the rights and freedoms of Polish citizens. The European Court of Human Rights has decided several Polish cases involving such fundamental issues as the right to life, personal liberty, the right to a fair trial, freedom of […]

Statement on the mounting repression against Belarusian lawyers and the disbarment of Dmitriy Laevski

More than 50 leading lawyers’ organizations, promoting the standards of rule of law and human rights have signed a joint letter on the continuing repressions against lawyers in Belarus and on the disbarment of Dmitriy Laevski. The statement was prepared by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Right, OMCT, Article 19 in partnership with the Council […]

Belarus: UN experts will examine the arbitrary detention of journalist Raman Pratasevich

29 July 2021 – Brussels, London, Oslo, Warsaw, Paris and Geneva – Last week seven human rights organisations submitted a complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on the case of Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich. Mr Pratasevich has been held in arbitrary and inhuman conditions since 23 May 2021. As it is not […]

New Technologies – New Justice – New Questions: the latest report by the Helsinki Foundation and Clifford Chance

According to over 93% of the lawyers participating in a survey of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Polish justice system does not make adequate use of new technology solutions, shows a report prepared by the HFHR in cooperation with Clifford Chance. At the same time, the vast majority of the respondents (96%), claim […]

International human rights organizations urge HRC to support extension of mandate of Special Rapporteur on Belarus

In a joint statement, Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) and more than 30 Belarusian and international human rights organisations call on UN Human Rights Council member States to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus during the Council’s upcoming 47th session. Full text of the statement:   To Permanent […]

Changes in the Board of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

After more than a decade of serving as President of the Board and more than thirty years of work at the Helsinki Foundation, its co-founder Danuta Przywara steps forward to become Chair of the Council, replacing Professor Janusz Grzelak in this role. On 15 June, the former Deputy President of the Board of the Helsinki […]

Can digitisation of courts be the remedy for the lengthy proceedings?

We present you the first of a series of discussions about digitisation of courts. The debate participants included: Ewa Ivanova, journalist, Gazeta Wyborcza Marcin Ciemiński PhD, Clifford Chance Warsaw Piotr Kładoczny PhD, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.   The debate is part of ‘New Technologies — New Justice’ – a joint project of the Helsinki […]

European Court of Human Rights will examine access to a lawyer in Poland. HFHR submits amicus curiae brief

♦ The ECtHR will consider a case (no. 47834/19) involving crucial aspects of the right to a fair trial, i.e. the right to access a lawyer in the initial stages of criminal proceedings. ♦ International bodies, including the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, the UN Committee against Torture or the Subcommittee against Torture, […]

Statement of the Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights on comments made by the President of the Republic of Poland on the Commissioner for Human Rights 

Warsaw, 6 May 2021 STATEMENT We have received comments made by the President of the Republic of Poland regarding the Commissioner for Human Rights with indignation and distaste. Not only due to the fact that we know the Commissioner well and hold the incumbent in high esteem. Regrettably, we perceive these words as constituting an […]

HFHR takes action in response to police conduct in Głogów

♦ According to a video released to the media, a police officer arresting a protester appears to have used force disproportionate to the behaviour of the person detained. ♦ In a letter sent to the head of a provincial Police department, the HFHR noted that only the necessary and least oppressive measures of direct coercion […]

Arrests and abuse of force: HFHR writes to the Chief Commissioner of the Police on protests against a judgment of the Constitutional Court

♦ Protests have erupted in Warsaw after the Constitutional Court delivered the so-called judgment on the Ombudsman’s term of office. ♦ Once again, the police have engaged in abusive conduct that may have violated the guarantees under the European Convention on Human Rights. ♦ The Helsinki Foundation sent another letter to the Chief Commissioner of […]

Declaration of social organisations on the takeover of the office of the Ombudsman by the parliamentary majority

As representatives of social organisations, we object to the hostile takeover of the office of Ombudsman by the ruling parliamentary majority.  We do not accept the de facto settlement of our rights and freedoms by Julia Przyłębska’s politically dependent tribunal, the disregard of the fundamental principles of reliable proceedings, including the independence and impartiality of […]

COVID-19 survivor detained despite ill health, prevented from seeing his lawyers. Detention lifted thanks to HFHR’s brief

♦ The HFPC was approached by the counsel of a person detained on remand despite ill health, suffering from the consequences of hospitalization and severe COVID-19). ♦ The counsel emphasised that their client, who speaks only Italian, is unable to communicate any symptoms or abnormalities resulting from his ailments. At the same time, his access […]

Open Letter to the European Commission – Rule of Law Crisis in Poland

Ursula von der LeyenPresident of the European Commission Věra JourováVice-President of the European Commission Didier ReyndersMember of the European Commission Dear President,Dear Vice-President,Dear Commissioner, Further to the letter of December 2020, endorsed by more than 5,000 judges and prosecutors of the Member States, we, the representatives of Polish civil society organisations and European scholars specialising […]

“New” trials in “old” courts, or how the pandemic changes court sittings

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the long-standing calls for more extensive digitisation of the justice system. “E-trials” provide an example of the use of new technologies in the courts. They can not only become a solution to such problems as access to courts or lengthy court proceedings but can also help the judiciary to deal […]

Statement delivered by Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights on the High Commissioner report on the situation of human rights in Belarus

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has delilvered a statement on the High Commissioner report on the situation of human rights in Belarus. HFHR emphasises the monumental crisis of the rule of law and human rights in Belarus and the intensification of political repressions. HFHR is deeply concerned about increased practice of disbarment of lawyers, including […]

Public statement on the human rights situation in Belarus: repressions against lawyers and advocates

HFHR with the partners, prepared the statement in the support of lawyers in Belarus. We invite you to sign the statement, as well as elaborate your own position on the situation, which can be sent directly to the Ministry of Justice, the Belarusian Republican Bar Association, Minsk City Bar Association, and/ or other places, as […]

In search of reasonable time… of court proceedings: HFHR publishes a report on judicial backlogs

♦ The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has published another report on the excessive length of court proceedings. ♦ Although most of the changes introduced to the general system of common courts are officially justified as means designed to accelerate judicial proceedings, protracted trials have remained a major weakness of the justice system. ♦ The […]

More cases of police abuse against protesters. HFHR intervenes with Chief Commissioner of the Police

♦ The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has written to the Chief Commissioner of the Police in connection with the incidents that occurred on 20 and 28 January 2021 during protests of the National Women’s Strike. ♦ According to press accounts, the police have cordoned off and used chemical agents on some protesters who were […]

Business, Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights published the report Poland: Business, Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law, prepared in cooperation with the American Bar Association, the main objective of which was to highlight the impact of legal and policy changes introduced by the governing majority since its coming to power in 2015 on conducting business […]


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