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President urged to launch constitutional review of the law on detention of dangerous individuals

The HFHR has called the President of Poland to initiate a pre-promulgation constitutional review of the law on the detention of dangerous individuals.

The law provides for a possibility of referring certain prisoners to a mandatory custodial therapy programme, a measure to be applied in the case of persons suffering from personality disorders which may result in them committing serious crimes against life or sexual liberty.

“The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has been monitoring the legislative works on the law and on several occasions presented legal opinions which emphasised that the adopted solutions might violate human rights protection standards”, says Barbara Grabowska, HFHR lawyer. The new law has been explicitly criticised by the National Council of Judiciary, the Prosecutor General and the psychiatric community, as well as experts of the Parliament’s Bureau of Research.

The key objections against the law relate to the infringement of the non-retroactivity principle and the fact that mandatory and permanent detention at the National Centre for the Prevention of Dissocial Behaviours is believed to constitute an excessive interference with personal freedom.

“In our letter to the President of Poland we observed that there were other, more proportional measures to protect the society from dangerous individuals such as electronic tagging”, adds Ms Grabowska.

According to psychiatrists, it is medically impossible to conduct an effective personality disorder treatment against the patient’s will. In effect, this may lead to the situation where the treatment is administered only for the sake of appearance while in fact it is being used as a pretext for detaining dangerous persons for life.

Recently, the need to initiate a preventive constitutional review of the new law has been expressed by such prominent legal and medical scholars as Professors Andrzej Zoll, Ewa Łętowska and Józef Gierowski.

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