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Chief Commissioner of the Police to disclose information on GPS tracking

Upon the Helsinki Foundation’s application for judicial review, the Provincial Administrative Court has reversed the decisions of the Chief Commissioner of the Police who refused to answer the HFHR’s original question about Police statistics on the use of GPS as a covert investigative method. At the same time, the Court obliged the Chief Commissioner to give an answer to this question.

Let us remind our readers that in November 2010 the HFHR applied to the Chief Commissioner of the Police for disclosing information on the use of the covert investigative methods involving GPS tracking of suspects’ whereabouts.

In November 2011 the first-instance Provincial Administrative Court dismissed the Foundation’s complaint against the Commissioner’s decision refusing to provide information. The PAC held that the Chief Commissioner’s decision had not violated any laws on access to public information. Yet in August 2012 the Supreme Administrative Court admitted the HFHR’s cassation complaint and ordered to the case to be re-heard.

Having examined the case for the second time, the PAC revoked the Chief Commissioner’s decision. “Counsel for the Chief Commissioner of the Police declared in open court that the Commissioner’s Headquarters would give answers to the Foundation’s questions”, says Irmina Pacho, HFHR lawyer. The Court noted that the information requested by the Helsinki Foundation is a kind of public knowledge and should be treated accordingly.

“The judgment in this case is an invaluable development from the perspective of the democratic state ruled by law”, says Ms Pacho. “On the one hand, the case involves the issue of citizens’ access to public information; on the other, it is significant for the relations between the executive and judicial branches of government”, she adds.

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights was represented in court by advocate Kacper Florysiak with the Pietrzak & Sidor Law Office.

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