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Senate works on law regarding reinstatement of disciplinary proceedings in uniformed services

The Senate’s Rule of Law, Human Rights and Petition Committee has accepted the proposal to promote a law designed to amend the rules governing the reinstatement of disciplinary proceedings in the Police and other uniformed services.

The bill, drafted by the Legislation Bureau of the Senate’s Chancellery, embraces the proposals presented in petitions submitted by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and a former police officer dishonourably dismissed from service after baseless criminal charges had been filed against him.

Police officer acquitted

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. This problem appeared in a case conducted by the Strategic Litigation Programme, which involved a police officer who had received disciplinary dismissal after a criminal case had been brought against him in 2001. After a decade, the man was acquitted on all counts by a court but was unable to return to work. According to the current wording of the Police Act, a disciplinary ruling becomes irrevocable after five years from the day on which it becomes final.

In June 2016, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that this rule was constitutional. Despite this ruling, in December 2016, the HFHR helped the expelled police officer to submit an application to the ECtHR.

Timeframe for renewal of disciplinary proceedings

Not only police officers are affected by too short deadlines for the renewal of disciplinary proceedings. Similar regulations are in place in the laws that determine the status of officers of other uniformed services. For example, the time-limit for the reinstatement of disciplinary proceedings in the Internal Security Agency is even shorter (three years).

As these limitations placed on parties’ ability to reinstate disciplinary proceedings and have unfair sanctions revoked have many negative consequences, the HFHR and the former police officer approached the Senate’s Rule of Law, Human Rights and Petition Committee asking for the commencement of legislative works on amendments to the laws in question. In its petition, the Foundation called for removing all temporal limitations on the admissibility of reinstatement of disciplinary proceedings by aggrieved officers of all uniformed services as such limitations have none constitutional basis whatsoever.

Change in law possible?

This call was embraced by drafters of the bill prepared by the Legislation Bureau of the Senate’s Chancellery and later accepted by the Committee. Additionally, the bill lays down rules on the reinstatement to service of acquitted officers.

The bill is now being communicated to the Speaker of the Senate who will officially initiate the enactment procedure. After three readings, the Senate may decide to propose the bill to the Sejm. This triggers the general legislative process leading to passing the amendment into law.

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