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What will happen with sobering stations?

On Wednesday, 9 January 2012, Senators voted at a plenary session on the bill amending the Act on Upbringing in Sobriety. Despite the modifications proposed earlier by Senate’s committees, the Senate adopted an unaltered text of the amendment.

The bill was sent to the President of Poland for signature which has to be affixed within 21 days. “We expect the President to sign it earlier. According to a transitional provision of the amendment, the enactment is to enter into force already on 17 January 2013”, says Barbara Grabowska. During the legislative works on the bill, the HFHR submitted two legal opinions critically assessing the amendment (to find out more about this issue, use this link).

Let us remind our readers that in April 2012 the Constitutional Tribunal passed a judgment naming unconstitutional the statutory regulations governing the payment collected from clients of sobering stations. In December last year, the Senate proposed an amendment which not only incorporated legislative changes resulting from the constitutional review but also introduced a series of modifications throughout the Act on Upbringing in Sobriety.

One of the most worrying changes is the introduction of two new direct coercive measures that may be applied against an individual admitted to a sobering station, namely forced administration of a medicinal product and solitary confinement.

Notably, the new coercive measures included in the bill have not been listed in the draft premises of the new law on the use of physical violence and firearms by public authorities adopted by the Council of Ministers which aimed at establishing a uniform set of direct coercive measures. In one of its opinions, the HFHR called for deletion of legislative modifications of direct coercive measures from the bill.

A Senate’s committee proposed to scrap the provision enabling sobering stations staff to use direct coercive measures prescribed elsewhere in law. However, at the plenary session Senators voted against the committee’s proposal.

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