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HFHR submits communication on juvenile justice proceedings to CoE Committee of Ministers

Juvenile Justice Act must be amended, says the Helsinki Foundation in the conclusion of its communication on the execution of ECtHR judgment in Grabowski v. Poland, which was submitted to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.

The judgment concerns the absence of periodic reviews of the reasonableness of extending detention of children in closed-setting facilities. In Grabowski, the European Court of Human Rights found that Poland had violated the provisions of the Convention that guarantee personal freedom for everyone. The ECtHR also ruled that Polish laws had been of inadequate quality and had failed to ensure legal certainty, which translated into a low level of procedural guarantees for children deprived of their liberty.

“Despite such a serious violation of the Convention, we are still awaiting effective execution of this judgment. It is all the more worrying that almost four years have passed since its publication”, points out Marcin Wolny, a lawyer of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. “So far, the activities of the Polish Government have boiled down to conducting training courses for judges who apply the laws in question. This is definitely not enough”, Mr Wolny adds.

In written comments addressed to the Committee of Ministers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed that the judgment would be executed by means of a major amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act, which was prepared by a team appointed by the Minister of Justice. “The proposed wording of the amendment has not yet been made public, so it is difficult to assess whether it effectively implements the recommendations of the European Court of Human Rights”, adds Katarzyna Wiśniewska, HFHR legal expert. “We also don’t know when these changes will be debated in the Sejm, and if the amendment will be discontinued upon the end of the current term of the Sejm”.

The HFHR recommended that the Committee of Ministers suspend the decision to consider the judgment in Grabowski v. Poland as executed until the relevant legislative changes are introduced. An opportunity to do so could be a bill drafted in the Senate on the basis of a petition submitted by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. The changes in law proposed in the bill would result in the complete execution of the Grabowski judgment raising the standard of procedural guarantees for children deprived of their liberty. Since July 2018, the Sejm Committee for Justice and Human Rights has been working on the bill.

The communication of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers can be viewed here.

To read the HFHR petition, follow this link.

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