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Poland: the Power of the Street

Poland: the Power of the Street

Poland was, as expected, recently suspended as a member of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENJC). The Polish government introduced a controversial law on the appointment of new judges to the Supreme Court by the parliament, which is dominated by the conservative government party. This is the first time in history that a member from the ENJC has been suspended.

Since the national conservative party Law and Justice (PiS) convincingly won the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015, the Polish government tries to gain more and more power through new legislative proposals. Because the PiS has the absolute majority in both the parliament and the senate and the president also belongs to this party, the government is in the position to carry out far-reaching reforms. These reforms have affected the independence of the judiciary, restricted freedom of expression and eroded the rule of law. https://www.amnesty.nl/mensenrechtensituatie-in-polen

The government continued its efforts to exert political control over the judiciary, ngo’s and the media. Hundreds of protesters faced criminal sanctions for participating in peaceful protests. Women and girls continued to face systemic barriers in accessing safe and legal abortion. https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/europe-and-central-asia/poland/report-poland/

Almost every week, people take to the streets in various towns and cities across Poland to protest. They demonstrate against the government’s ongoing attempts to restrict human rights, to challenge growing nationalism and xenophobia and to oppose threats to the environment. In addition, people are worried about the reduction of the retirement age in the Supreme Court because this could be a danger to the Polish democracy.

One of those brave people is Boguslaw Zalewski. This 82-year-old activist doesn’t sit still but takes to the street to protest for a better democratic system in Poland. He wants to live in a real democracy, governed by the rule of law. Curious about Boguslaw Zalewski? Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=va-r8zs75vk

Masterclass: Poland the power of the street

On Saturday 6 October Amnesty organizes an extended version of a Masterclass for Students. We will focus on the human rights situation in Poland, and specifically ‘the Power of the Street’. For this we have invited three external speakers with different backgrounds, who will each deal with a separate aspect of this topic. The guest lecturers at this masterclass will be:

  • Draginja Nadazdin is the director of Amnesty Poland.
  • Michiel Luijning worked at the Europe cluster of Clingendael Institute. His research focused on the rule of law. Momentarily he is teaching at the Faculty Governance and Global Affairs at Leiden University.
  • Ekke Overbeek is correspondent in Central-Europe for the ‘Trouw’. In 2014 his book Lękajcie się (Be fearful) on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Poland came out. A year later he wrote Eurotopper Tusk; the new Poland in Europe.

The masterclass will not only consist of lectures, it will also be an interactive afternoon with room for discussion, interesting assignments on lobby and campaigning strategy and action.

Do you want to know more about the Power of the Street and the human rights situation in Poland? Join the free Masterclass! Register here!