University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture, Poland, U.N. Doc. A/52/44, paras. 95-110 (1996).


Convention Abbreviation: CAT


Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

E. Poland

95. The Committee considered the second periodic report of Poland (CAT/C/25/Add.9) at its 276th, 277th and 279th meetings, held on 20 and 21 November 1996 (see CAT/C/SR.276, 277 and 279), and adopted the following conclusions and recommendations.

1. Introduction
96. The Committee thanks Poland for its report and for having once again begun a fruitful and constructive dialogue with the Committee. Notwithstanding the delay in Poland's submission of its second periodic report, the latter is in keeping with the requirements of the Convention and the general guidelines established by the Committee concerning the form and contents of reports.

2. Positive aspects
97. Poland is one of the first Eastern European countries to have initiated at an early date radical changes and reforms in all areas - economic, political, social and legislative. It has ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, the Convention against Torture and other international human rights instruments. The Committee notes with satisfaction the progress made in combating the different forms of torture.

3. Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the provisions of the Convention

98. The Committee notes that most of the reforms mentioned in the oral and written reports are still at the drafting stage.

4. Principal subjects of concern
99. The Committee is concerned about certain shortcomings in the legislation in force intended to combat torture. Domestic legislation does not contain any definition of torture, as required in articles 1 and 4 of the Convention. Moreover, there is no way for the Committee to determine whether, under existing legislation, obedience to a legitimate hierarchical authority may be invoked in justification of an act of torture.

100. The Committee is also concerned that Polish legislation permits periods of pre-trial detention which may prove excessive.

101. The Committee deplores the existence in Polish legislation of provisions authorizing the use of physical force, particularly against minors.

102. Lastly, the Committee deplores the fact that a supplementary report was not brought to the attention of its members until the meeting at which the periodic report was submitted, even though it contains interesting information.

5. Recommendations
103. The Committee repeats to the Government of Poland the recommendation it made in November 1993, at the conclusion of the consideration of Poland's initial report, namely, that a definition of torture which fully covers all the elements in the definition contained in article 1 of the Convention should be incorporated into domestic law.

104. The Committee also recommends that the Government continue its efforts to introduce other legislative reforms and to secure the adoption and promulgation of the numerous draft texts referred to by the delegation.

105. In this connection, the Committee recommends reforms of the legal system which will offer the possibility of formal, effective and concrete judicial verification of the constitutionality of police custody and pre-trial detention with a view to implementing the provisions of the Convention.

106. The Committee also recommends that the Government intensify its programme of training for all personnel responsible for the implementation of legislation, including doctors.

107. The Committee recommends that objective inquiries be initiated, and pursued with due dispatch, into the activities of the security forces in order to determine the veracity of allegations of acts of torture and, where the findings are positive, to bring the offenders before the courts.

108. The Committee recommends that the period of pre-trial detention be shortened and that the possibility of extending it for two years should be abolished.

109. The Committee recommends that statements obtained directly or indirectly under torture should not be admissible as evidence in the courts. It recommends that the abolition as soon as possible of legal provisions permitting the use of physical force, for whatever reason, should be envisaged.

110. Finally, the Committee considers that the likelihood of commission of acts of torture or of other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment would be limited if suspects had easy access to a lawyer, doctor or family member during the 48 hours of police custody.



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