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Venice Commission’s another visit to Poland

Representatives of the Helsinki Foundation and other non-governmental organisations met with the members of the Venice Commission who are working on an opinion on the amendment to the Police Act and other laws.
Let us remind our readers that in January 2016 the Sejm passed an amendment to the Police Act and other laws. The amendment was supposed to implement the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal from July 2014, in which the Tribunal ruled that a number of legal provisions, among them those governing collection of phone records and covert investigative methods, were unconstitutional.

At the stage of legislative works, the HFHR presented an opinion which read that the proposed amendment failed to fully implement the Tribunal’s judgment, and also was contrary to the EU law guidelines governing the protection of personal data (to find out more about the opinion, follow this link).

The Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe applied to the Venice Commission for an opinion on the amendment in question.

During the meeting with the Commission’s members, the HFHR representatives reiterated their key concerns expressed at the stage of parliamentary works: overly extensive access of security services to online data, no guarantees for professional confidentiality privileges of attorneys and journalists, imprecise rules of covert investigative methods and the absence of the duty to inform a person targeted by such methods about their use. The Foundation also voiced its concerns regarding the absence of any supervision over operations of security services conducted in order to collect online data or data obtained thanks to the use of covert investigative methods.

“We think that the amendment to the Police Act and certain other laws presents a serious human rights threat, especially in the context of the right to privacy”, says Barbara Grabowska-Moroz, member of the Foundation’s legal team. “Absence of any supervision over services’ operations in this area may lead to serious abuses of power”, Ms Grabowska-Moroz warns.

The Venice Commission is expected to prepare its opinion on the amendment to the Police Act in early June 2016. The HFHR’s submissions communicated to the Commission may be accessed here.

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