COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE
19 OF THE CONVENTION
and recommendations of the Committee against Torture
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.