COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
178. The tenth, eleventh and twelfth periodic reports of Poland, submitted
in one document (CERD/C/226/Add.2), were considered by the Committee
at its 981st, 982nd and 983rd meetings, held on 17 and 18 March 1993
179. The report was introduced by the representative of the reporting
State, who explained that since the report had been drafted in
there had been no notable developments concerning the situation
of racial discrimination in Poland. He emphasized that there were
laws in Poland regarding the legal status of persons which made
any distinction on the grounds of race or ethnic origin. The Constitutional
Court had ruled on several occasions that the principle of equality
before the law constituted the very foundation of the State and
to be strictly respected by all State organs. Poland had a comprehensive
system of institutional guarantees for the rule of law based on
independence of the judiciary. Justice was administered not only
through the courts, but also through the Commissioner for Human
who was empowered to act
not only in cases involving breaches of the law, but also in cases
of violations of accepted principles of community
life. Cases of discrimination in Poland were few and were usually
related to nationality.
180. With respect to the application of the international human rights
treaties ratified by Poland, the representative informed the Committee
that, in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court in June
1992, such treaties would henceforth become directly applicable and
binding provided that they were self-executing. Unfortunately, the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination, which had been ratified before the constitutional
amendment of April 1989, could not yet be considered as directly incorporated
in Polish law. However, that situation was expected to change with
the adoption of the new Constitution, which would put all human rights
treaties ratified by Poland on an equal footing and make them part
of the internal legal order irrespective of the date of ratification.
181. Members of the Committee welcomed the recent trend towards greater
democracy in Poland. The ratification by Poland of the European Convention
on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its
acceptance of the jurisdiction of the European Court on Human Rights,
as well as of the procedure whereby individual petitions could be
made to the European Commission on Human Rights, were evidence that
it had consolidated its status as a democratic State based on the
rule of law.
182. Members of the Committee noted that the report under consideration
was somewhat brief and not fully in accordance with the Committee's
revised general guidelines. Those guidelines should be taken into
account when the next periodic report was prepared. Members wished
to have more detailed information on the legal situation in Poland
with regard to the implementation of the Convention. They observed
that the Government should consider submitting a "core document" containing
general information on the situation in the country which could
be used by all human rights treaty bodies and which would make
the task of reporting easier. Members also wished to have more
precise demographic data showing the ethnic and racial situation
In particular, further information was requested on attitudes and
behaviour towards Jews and Gypsies in Poland and on the problem
racial discrimination against immigrants and refugees.
183. With respect to article 2 of the Convention, members of the Committee
indicated that the Polish authorities should take into account the
provisions of article 2.1 of the Convention in connection with any
policy which the National and Ethnic Minorities Commission might adopt.
The authorities should formulate a more comprehensive policy towards
minorities, put it into written form and bring it to the attention
of the persons it was intended to protect and those who were required
to implement it. Furthermore, a governmental body should be specifically
designated as responsible for its coordination. The Committee would
welcome further information on all those points in the next report
of Poland. Members requested more information with respect to the
implementation of article 2.1 (d).
184. With respect to article 4 of the Convention, members of the Committee
stated that the report should have been more informative about the
Polish National Party, which sought to promote negative attitudes
towards Jews. They asked whether the Polish Constitution allowed the
establishment of political parties and organizations on racial, ethnic
or religious grounds.
185. With regard to article 5 of the Convention, members of the Committee
noted that the information provided in connection with that article
related only to legislation and not to the actual situation in the
country. Members wished to have more information on the groups organized
by the Socio-Cultural Society, which had secured for the German minority
a strong representation in local government; on limitations on the
right to own property; on the cultural education provided and training
in the languages of minority groups; on the national education system
and the extent to which it reflected the interests of the different
186. Referring to article 6 of the Convention, members of the Committee
indicated that insufficient detail had been given with respect to
the implementation of that article. Further information was requested
on the functions of the Ombudsman and of the National and Ethnic Minority
Commission. More information was also requested with respect to recent
changes in the organization of the judiciary.
187. Concerning article 14 of the Convention, members of the Committee
asked whether Poland planned to make a declaration recognizing the
competence of the Committee to receive and consider communications
from individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be victims of
a violation of any right set forth in the Convention.
188. Replying to the questions, the representative of the State party
stated that, in regard to the demographic composition of Poland, the
Minister of Culture had estimated that the population included 300,000
Ukrainians, between 200,000 and 250,000 Belarusians, between 200,000
and 500,000 Germans, between 20,000 and 25,000 Lithuanians, 15,000
Jews, 15,000 Greeks and Macedonians, 3,000 Russians, Tartars, Karaites,
Ormians and Czechs, and between 10,000 and 15,000 Gypsies. Ethnic
minorities thus totalled some 1.1 million out of a total population
of 40 million citizens. Apart from some isolated instances, there
was no negative attitude or discrimination towards foreigners in the
189. With regard to article 1 of the Convention, the representative
stated that although that provision had not been literally incorporated
in domestic legislation, there was no doubt that it had influenced
the understanding in Poland of what constituted racial discrimination.
190. Concerning article 2 of the Convention, the representative gave
further information on the status of the Convention in the Polish
legal order and indicated that the Convention played an important
role in Polish jurisprudence. There were, for example, frequent references
to the International Covenants, which similarly had not yet been transformed
into domestic law, in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court,
the Administrative Court and in the activities of the Ombudsman.
191. With regard to article 4 of the Convention, the representative
explained that, following decades of communist rule, Poland was
in the initial stage of establishing a multiparty system. The general
approach adopted was to limit State interference in that process
much as possible. At present, there were more than 180 political
parties active in Poland, most of which were very small with no
influence. That was the case for the National Party under the leadership
of Mr. Tejkowski. Because of his statements and other activities,
criminal proceedings against Mr. Tejkowski had been initiated,
they had not yet been completed. In that connection, the statute
on political parties of 1990 made it possible for the Constitutional
Court to declare a political party inconsistent with the Constitution.
Legislation on associations provided
similar restrictions in regard to organizations other than political
192. Concerning article 5 of the Convention and the participation
of minorities in representative organs, the local administration
Poland was based on the principle of self-government. Representatives
of minorities were members of local parliaments, as well as of
national Parliament. In order to facilitate the access of minorities
to the legislature, the electoral law of 1991 had established lower
criteria for the registration and election of candidates representing
minorities. With regard to educational opportunities for minorities,
there were no restrictions as to teaching in minority languages.
of such instruction depended on the need and on material resources.
Since 1 September 1992, German had been taught as a basic language
in 7 schools and as an additional language in 170 schools in areas
inhabited by the German minority.
Ukrainian was taught in 3 primary schools and in 3 general secondary
schools, while Belarusian was taught
in 48 primary schools and in 2 general secondary schools.
193. With respect to article 6 of the Convention, the representative
stated that the Sejm Committee for National and Ethnic Minorities
had been established immediately after the political changes of 1989.
It was a standing parliamentary committee which dealt with all matters
relevant to the protection of minorities. In particular, the Committee
discussed the question of a draft statute on that question.
194. In regard to article 14 of the Convention, the representative
stated that, in general, Poland recognized the right of individuals
to avail themselves of international complaints procedures in instances
where they felt that their rights had been violated. It was only for
technical reasons that Poland had not yet made the declaration under
article 14 recognizing the competence of the Committee in that regard.
195. In conclusion, the representative stated that the observations
and recommendations made by the members of the Committee would be
very useful to the Polish authorities.
196. The Committee recommended that the Government of Poland, in drafting
its next periodic report, should make use of the possibility created
by the revised guidelines on reporting to submit a core document covering
the general legal, political and economic situation in Poland. It
expressed the hope that the next periodic report would provide all
the information requested during the Committee's consideration of
the tenth, eleventh and twelfth periodic reports.
197. The Committee reiterated its request for further demographic
data in accordance with general recommendation IV and for full information
on the situation of ethnic groups.
198. The Committee considered the form in which the Convention had
been incorporated in Polish law and noted that a different system
had been provided for under the new Constitution. It recommended to
the Government that it should consider giving the Convention the same
status in domestic law as other international human rights instruments.