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HFHR issues statement on arrest of Elżbieta Podleśna

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights expresses its protest against the early morning arrest of Elżbieta Podleśna. According to the police, the Płock-based social activist Elżbieta Podleśna put up posters featuring the image of Our Lady of Częstochowa with a rainbow flag halo, which, according to the law enforcement authorities, may constitute the offence of insulting religious feelings. Officers searched the activist’s apartment and seized electronic equipment, including telephones, computers, flash drives and CDs.

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights wishes to recall that according to Article 31(3) of the Constitution, “Any limitation upon the exercise of constitutional freedoms and rights may be imposed only by statute, and only when necessary in a democratic state for the protection of its security or public order, or to protect the natural environment, health or public morals, or the freedoms and rights of other persons. Such limitations shall not violate the essence of freedoms and rights.” At the same time, in accordance with Article 227 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, “a search or seizure of an item must be conducted according to the purpose of the measure concerned, and within the limits necessary to achieve the aim of those measures with the exercise of a reasonable degree of care, with respect for the dignity of the persons affected, and without causing unnecessary damage and disturbance”.

In the opinion of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the action of law enforcement authorities in the Elżbieta Podleśna’s case violated both the constitutional principle of proportionality and norms of criminal procedure. It is difficult to understand why, instead of entering her home at six o’clock in the morning, the police did not summon Elżbieta Podleśna for an interview. Given her status as a well-known independent activist, the course of action taken by law enforcement authorities can suggest that the search and seizure were deliberately used as a form of repression.

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