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Interventions for prisoners’ rights

One of the fixed items on the HFHR’s agenda is taking action in cases that involve unprofessional conduct of prison officers or outright abuses of powers wielded by the Prison Service.

Case of Agnieszka Pysz

Recently, the HFHR has intervened in the case of death of Agnieszka Pysz, a woman detained at a remand centre. According to press articles and the inquiry of the Commissioner for Human Rights, oversight of the Centre’s medical personnel might have contributed to the woman’s death.

Responding to our letter, Director of the Regional Inspectorate of Prison Service in Warsaw informed that Inspectorate’s specialist had investigated the case, which resulted in the submission of a motion to the District Prosecutor’s Office that conducts pre-trial proceedings in order to establish whether the incident was related to somebody’s failure to properly discharge their duties in the process of medical treatment.

Examples of other HFHR’s interventions

  • An inmate beaten

Officers of the Prison Service have sent an anonymous letter the Helsinki Foundation, asking the HFHR to intervene in a case of violent behaviour of their fellow officer employed in a prison. A CCTV recording enclosed to the letter shows the officer punching an inmate. The HFHR has officially asked a Regional Director of Prison Service to take action, referring to Article 3 of the ECHR, Article 40 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland (prohibition of torture) and provisions of the Criminal Enforcement Code. Findings of the inquiry persuaded the director to file an official criminal complaint to a prosecutor’s office on 24 July 2017, in which he reported a possibility that the officer in question might commit a criminal offence. Furthermore, disciplinary proceedings were launched against the officer.

  • Prison leaves withheld for long-term inmates

The HFHR has been informed about the recently intensifying problem of withheld prison leaves fir long-term inmates and changes in their categorisation. The Foundation asked the Director General of the Prison Service for explanations. The situation may be related to the unauthorised absence of two inmates from a place of unsupervised work.

  • An inmate with brain cancer

O.S., an inmate with brain cancer who suffers from debilitating headaches, complained about not being supplied with painkillers appropriate for his condition. The HFHR reminded the head of the remand centre that both the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights provide that persons deprived of liberty should be treated in a humanitarian way. The Foundation also emphasised that applications had been made against Poland to the European Court of Human Rights in cases involving facts similar to those of the O.S. case.

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