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Senate committee will look at disciplinary proceedings against police officers

The HFHR issued a petition to the Speaker of the Polish Senate, which calls for launching legislative work to amend the rules of reinstating disciplinary proceedings against officers of the uniformed services.

Timeframes: too narrow

Applicable laws set out very narrow timeframes for the reinstatement of proceedings, which prevents the review of unfair disciplinary measures, for example in the situation where an officer is acquitted with a judgement of a criminal court entered years after the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings.

In the explanatory part of the petition, the HFHR indicated that it is necessary to ensure that disciplined officers are able to reinstate disciplinary proceedings in order to uphold the constitutional right to defend one’s good name. The Foundation also emphasised that if new exonerating circumstances appear, the defendant should be able to reinstate disciplinary proceedings, even in cases where years have passed from the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings.

The HFHR also noted that in accordance with the rules of criminal procedure and those governing disciplinary proceedings in many other professions, the are no time limits for reinstating proceedings to the benefit of a defendant.

Recurring problem

The HFHR has been long addressing the problems concerning the inability to reinstate disciplinary proceedings that ended with an officer’s unfair removal from service. In December 2016, the Helsinki Foundation took part in the filing of an application to the European Court of Human Rights in on behalf of a police officer who has been dismissed from service because of criminal charges laid against him. After more than a decade of criminal proceedings, the officer was acquitted on all counts but he was unable to demand to be reinstated to service due to the passage of a statutory time-limit. More information about the case is available here.

The Chancellery of the Senate notified the HFHR that the Senate was currently working on another petition which addresses the same legal problem but concerns only police officers. The Foundation will monitor these works. It welcomed with satisfaction the Senators’ interest in this area.


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