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Polish Human Rights Defender launches report on equal treatment law and practice in Poland

June 26th 2012
As a result of repeated racist and xenophobic incidents, the Human Rights Defender in Poland has launched its report on the "The principle of equal treatment - law and practice. Preventing violence motivated by race, nationality or ethnic origin. Analysis and recommendations."

The report analyses the phenomenon of racism in Poland in light of several studies conducted by public institutions and NGOs as well as current efforts to prevent such a growing problem. Using existing literature, studies and best practices the report presents the following conclusions:

- It is necessary to create a unified database of hate crimes motivated by race, nationality or ethnic origin through close cooperation in data collection by the largest number of stockholders possible (public administration, law enforcement, judiciary and NGOs);

- It is necessary to conduct periodic studies to show the actual scale of the phenomenon of racism in Poland. This would give guidance on the necessary preventive measures and contribute to the enhancement of awareness of the punishable offenses in the Penal Code and of their rights among potential victims;

- It is also necessary to continue the training of police officers in the proper identification of hate crimes and their effects on communities, including the need for appropriate response. During the training police officers should have direct contact with people of different ethnic origin or nationality to be able to develop their cultural competence;

The Ombudsman recommended the maintenance and improvement of adopted internal control mechanisms of law enforcement for effective prosecution and punishment of offenders, and also to sensitize the judiciary on the importance of prevention and the educational role of jurisprudence in discrimination cases. In this area, it is necessary to create an appropriate training program for judges and prosecutors, including:

- The proper application of criminal law in the abovementioned categories of cases, so that through the use of diverse catalogue of punishments and measures linked to the specific responsibilities for the offenders, the optimum effect of resocialization can be achieved;

- Sensitize judges that hate crimes are not acts of low degree of damage to
society;

- Indicating that in the case of arrest of judgment, courts should require convicts to participate in corrective and educational activities or to refrain from being in certain environments or locations;

- In these cases it would be desirable that the courts ruled for a prison sentence (which they rarely do), especially in conjunction with the obligation of social work (for instance when someone would devastate the Jewish cemetery he/she will cleanup similar places of memory - resocialization activities).

More information can be found about the report here (in Polish only).