Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1986

Poland is ruled by the leadership of the Polish United Workers
(Communist) Party (PIWP) headed by General Wojciech
Jaruzelski. Jaruzelski is also the Supreme Commander of the
Armed Forces in his capacity as Chairman of the National
Defense Committee. In November 1985, General Jaruzelski
became Chairman of the Council of State. He was succeeded as
Chairman of the Council of Ministers by Zbigniew Messner, an
economist. Two other parties, the United Peasants Party and
the Democratic Party, are represented in the Government and
the Sejm (parliament), but their representatives collaborate
closely with and are dominated by the Communist leadership.
During the PUWP ' s 10th Congress in June and July 1986, General
Jaruzelski was reconfirmed as First Secretary of the party.
Poland has a powerful security apparatus administered by the
Minister of Internal Affairs. The Ministry has acted in a
more restrained manner since the unprecedented public trial,
conviction, and sentencing of four of its secret police
officers for the October 1984 kidnaping and murder of Father
Jerzy Popieluszko, a Catholic priest and human rights activist
with close ties to the Solidarity trade union movement.
Poland's economic recovery continues slowly under the burden
of substantial difficulties, including a large debt to foreign
creditors. Reforms aimed at greater decentralization of
decisionmaking have modified only marginally the economic
system's basic dependence on central control over resource
management, production, and distribution. The major exception
to that system remains Poland's predominantly private
agricultural sector, in which the right to own land is
provided. Small private businesses, mostly in the crafts and
service areas, are also permitted.
In July the Sejm passed a law providing conditional clemency
for political prisoners, and on September 11 the Government
followed up by releasing all political prisoners accused or
convicted of crimes "against the State or public order." This
decision did not affect those convicted of treason, economic
sabotage, espionage, or terrorism. After the amnesty, the
Sejm passed a law providing that some political offenses could
be treated as misdemeanors rather than as offenses against the
criminal code. As of mid-November, no one was held on charges
based on the articles of the Polish penal code that had
normally been used by the authorities to hold political
prisoners, although several persons had been detained briefly
and, in some cases, fined before being released. Several
persons, however, whose offenses had apparently been
politically motivated, were being held formally on criminal
charges .
During the PUWP's 10th Congress, General Jaruzelski proposed
the creation of the new office of a Spokesman on Citizens'
Rights and a new Consultative Council to the Council of State
in which independent voices would have a share. Various
formulas for the Spokesman's mandate have been published and
are under study. The new Consultative Council to the Chairman
of the Council of State (Jaruzelski) came into being on
December 6. Among its 56 members are several prominent
Catholic social activists and many noted intellectuals who
have no party affiliation.
Despite such improvements in the human rights situation, the
authorities, especially the security service and the
judiciary, retained overwhelming power to deal with political
dissidence or other forms of opposition. For example, the
1985 law on special criminal procedures provides, among other
things, for the greatly enlarged use of summary courts
empowered to bring an accused to trial within 48 hours of
arrest and to impose prison terms of up to 3 years for certain
criminal and noncriminal (political) offenses. The
authorities frequently used this law in political cases in the
period before the September amnesty.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from:
a. Political Killing
No instances of political killing in Poland were confirmed
this year, though the British-based Information Center of
Polish Affairs reported that a Solidarity activist from Nowy
Sacz died in a hospital on February 2 after an attack by
"unknown assailants" in unexplained circumstances. In
February the death in 1985 while in police custody of a Gdansk
university student, Marcin Antonowicz, was ruled accidental by
an official investigation, and the police officers involved in
his detention were cleared. Many Poles remain convinced,
however, that his death was the result of police brutality.
The Polish Helsinki Committee believes that since December 31,
1981, the deaths of some 250 to 300 persons, including many
active in Solidarity, may be directly attributed to the violent
imposition of martial law, brutal treatment of detained persons
in the hands of the police and deaths of a suspicious nature
in which there are allegations of police involvement.
b. Disappearance
Instances of prolonged or permanent disappearance have not
been reported.
c. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
There were no reported instances of the authorities
systematically using torture to extract information. However,
there have been frequent complaints by human rights groups
that the police or secret police have mistreated, beaten, or
tortured persons in their custody. Some former Solidarity
activists have also stated that they were beaten or tortured
while serving prison sentences. During 1986 there were
several reports of torture and beatings which Polish and
Western human rights groups say were perpetrated either by
police or perons working for the authorities.
One of the most serious allegations was made in January when a
young Warsaw Pole was reportedly burned, beaten, and subjected
to electric shocks to the genitals by three unidentified
assailants. In April a number of sources reported that noted
Solidarity activist Wladyslaw Frasyniuk was being physically
mistreated in prison. The Government denied these charges,
though the government spokesman admitted that "physical
pressure" had been applied to Frasyniuk to remove him to
solitary confinement. Frasyniuk, now at liberty, has made no
public comment on this subject.
In May underground sources alleged that two individuals were
brutally assaulted by police officers when found reading
underground newspapers in Piastow, a small town near Warsaw,
and that a 15-year old was beaten with truncheons and
suspended by a pair of handcuffs from a metal bar during
interrogations in police custody. In June a young man claimed
that he had been kidnaped for 2 days by the secret police,
tortured, and forced to sign a promise to cooperate with the
security services in the future, a charge the government
spokesman denied, stating that the young man had simply been
detained by police for a preventive and cautionary
Both the regular police and the Zomo riot police have employed
rubber truncheons and water cannon against antigovernment
demonstrators. As the number of demonstrations dwindled in
1986, there have been fewer reports of the use of excessive
police force under those circumstances.
There were continuing reports of poor prison conditions for
political prisoners and of some prisoners suffering from food
poisoning or hepatitis as a result of eating the prison fare,
as well as developing tuberculosis in the prison environment.
Medical services reportedly were also poor at many prisons,
and medical treatment was allegedly denied to a few political
prisoners. Some prisoners have been furloughed in order to
obtain necessary medical care. Prisoners who engaged in
hunger strikes, either to protest prison conditions or to seek
governmental recognition as political prisoners, have been
subjected to force-feeding by prison authorities, allegedly
administered roughly. There were also allegations that
prisoners were beaten. It is unknown how many prisoners were
subjected to maltreatment or how often it occurred.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Polish law allows for a 48-hour detention period before the
authorities have to bring formal charges. Certain categories
of offenses may actually be tried within 48 hours of arrest
under special, accelerated procedures whose use was greatly
enlarged under legislation passed in May 1985. Suspects
falling under other categories of offenses may, after the
presentation of the legal basis for formal investigation, be
held in indefinite "investigatory" or "temporary" arrest.
During this period, there is no guarantee of access to a
lawyer, and visits are generally denied.
Once a formal indictment is filed in a case not handled under
accelerated procedures, the defendant is allowed ample time to
study the charges in consultation with an attorney of his or
her choice. A trial date is set only after the defendant
expresses readiness. Legal provisions for bail are rarely
used, but suspects, as well as those already convicted, are
sometimes furloughed for humanitarian reasons.
Although there may have been some improvement in the situation
in 1986, human rights groups such as Helsinki Watch report
continued detention of persons for vague and tenuous reasons.
Polish law contains no provision for forced exile. Some
former political prisoners have reported that they were told
by police that harassment of them and their families would end
only if they emigrated. Some labor and political activists
occasionally expressed fears that they would be refused
reentry if they were to travel abroad, especially to the West.
Under 1983 legislation, persons who are registered as
unemployed and who refuse to seek employment without adequate
justification may be listed as "habitual parasites" and
compelled to accept specific employment, usually street
cleaning, park maintenance, or garbage collection, under
threat of penal sanction. To date, the law has not been
applied as a means of political coercion, as a sanction
against the free expression of political or ideological
opinions, or as a means of racial or social discrimination.
Penal sanctions under this law are rare, though some recently
released political prisoners have reported that the police
have threatened them with this law as a form of harassment.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Amendments to the Penal Code, enacted in May 1985 ostensibly
to assure the speedy hearing of certain accusations, have
greatly enlarged the scope for application of special
accelerated trial procedures that severely limit the rights of
defendants. In such summary trials, charges are made by the
police rather than the prosecution, and the defendants are not
given an opportunity to choose an attorney. The assigned
public defender has little time to discuss the case with his
client and no time to search for witnesses or for evidence of
innocence since the defendant may be tried and sentenced
within 48 hours of arrest. These special courts, which
earlier dealt only with a narrow range of misdemeanor-type
offenses, can pronounce prison sentences of up to 3 years and
a fine of about $3,000 for some offenses. Persons accused of
inciting public unrest, possessing independent publications,
or participating in illegal organizations have been convicted
under these summary procedures. The conviction rate under
these procedures is extremely high.
In October 1986, the Sejm passed legislation that allows
certain crimes against the public order (political offenses)
to be treated as misdemeanors subject to a maximum penalty of
a $250 fine and/or 3 months' deprivation of liberty meted out
by misdemeanor courts. The new legislation gives the
authorities the option of handling certain crimes either as
misdemeanors or as felonies depending on the perceived
seriousness of the offense. Persons detained during political
demonstrations in Krakow in November were fined and released,
apparently under the misdemeanor provisions. Others were
apparently warned and released without penalty.
The trial of Solidarity leader Lech Walesa in February in
Gdansk was widely criticized for the "political" and
unsubstantiated nature of the charge that Walesa had slandered
Sejm election officials in October 1985 by stating that voter
turnout in the October 1985 parliamentary elections had been
lower than the figure they had claimed. The charge was
dropped after Walesa stated in court that he had had no
intention of slandering anyone. The trial was closed to
Western diplomatic representatives but open to some Western
journalists and outside observers.
Also in February, the Supreme Court upheld the convictions of
three noted Solidarity activists, Adam Michnik, Bogdan Lis,
and Wladyslaw Frasyniuk, on charges of "membership in an
illegal organization" and "fomenting public unrest," although
it reduced the sentences of Michnik and Lis. Frasyniuk 's
remained unchanged at 3 1/2 years. All three were released
under the September 11 decision.
In April Leszek Moczulski, the leader of the Confederation for
an Independent Poland (KPN), was sentenced to 4 years in
prison for "engaging in activity contrary to state interests."
One of his associates, who reportedly had contracted
tuberculosis while in prison awaiting trial, was sentenced to
2 1/2 years in prison, a motion to release him due to the lack
of adeqTaate medical care in prison having been denied. Both
persons were released as a result of the July 17 law and the
September 11 decision. In May Solidarity activist Seweryn
Jaworski was sentenced to 2 years' imprisonment for "fomenting
public unrest" in connection with his activities in the
October 1985 Sejm elections boycott. He was released in
September 1986.
Prior to the September 11 decision, the nun±)er of political
prisoners had risen from slightly more than 200 to between 300
and 350 in June. The amnesty excepted those detained or
convicted for treason, economic sabotage, terrorism, and
espionage. Although some human rights groups consider some of
these as political prisoners, they remain under investigative
arrest or are serving prison sentences. In October a priest
and a young man involved in the 1982 murder of a police
sergeant were released from prison, while the sentences of two
other youths convicted in the case were significantly
reduced. The provisions of the July 17 law were also applied
to 3 of the 4 convicted murderers of Father Jerzy Popieluszko,
reducing their sentences from 25 to 15 years, from 15 to 10
years, and from 14 to 8 years, respectively. The sentence of
Grzegorz Piotrowski, the principal killer, remained unchanged
at 25 years. Since the September 11 decision, only one person
was reportedly arrested and held on a political charge —
distributing underground literature — but she was released with
a warning after several days.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home or
Mail and phone calls are selectively monitored. Overt
censorship of the mail and announced monitoring of telephone
calls ceased with the suspension of martial law. Packages to
be mailed abroad must be assembled at the post office in the
presence of a customs official or postal worker. It is
generally assumed that the Polish secret police uses an
extensive network of informers. Prior to the September
amnesty, the authorities showed their ability to monitor
private activities when Interior Minister Kiszczak announced
that police had questioned 3,000 people suspected of
underground activities in a single day.
Polish citizens are not forced to participate in any political
organizations, although it is generally understood that
membership in the PUWP is necessary for advancement in certain
professions. The Government does not interfere with the right
to marry or to have children as one chooses, nor does it
prevent the teaching of religion to children at home or in
churches. However, the Government often views as suspect the
contacts of its citizens with foreigners and with domestic
political opponents. Searches without warrant of homes and
offices and confiscation of personal documents and property
continue in Poland. Warrants are sometimes required under
Polish law, although the circumstances under which the warrant
requirement applies are ambiguous.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech. The freedom
to express one's opinion in a private conversation, whether or
not in a public place, is generally tolerated, while the
freedom to distribute opposition pamphlets or deliver a
controversial speech in a public place is not. The rejection
of the Communist government by the overwhelming majority of
the Polish people finds reflection in various indirect ways by
which Poles manifest their viewpoint. One example is the
monthly "Mass for the Fatherland" held in many churches,
including Warsaw's St. Stanislaw Kostka where Father
Popieluszko formerly preached.
Official censorship of all media exists as part of the
authorities' control mechanism. Censorship in Poland
generally assumes one of three basic forms. First, there is
self-censorship. Many articles are consciously or
unconsciously self-censored by their authors before being
submitted, more often to increase the chances for publication
than to avoid specific reprisals. Second, editors of
state-run media may kill an article or program entirely if
they feel its content is politically too controversial.
Controversial articles or programs which do appear are often
the result of prolonged bargaining with editors and censors.
Editors are subject to pressure to maintain an official line.
Finally, there is the government censorship apparatus. It is
frequently impossible to detect the impact of the formal
censorship process in state-controlled media, but such
publications as the Catholic weekly, Tygodnik Powszechny, and
the monthly of the Catholic Intellectuals Clubs, Wiez,
indicate to their readers, in brackets, where the censors have
deleted material and which particular provision of the
censorship law has been invoked. Perhaps most importantly,
people can be arrested and convicted for publishing or
distributing any publication not approved by the censors.
The vast majority of newspapers and journals are state owned
and operated, as are publishing houses, television channels,
and radio stations. Access to foreign publications is
limited. Attempts at independent radio broadcasts have been
suppressed. While the state-owned press follows the approved
government line on all essential issues, it sometimes provides
a forum for debate on certain domestic issues and even on some
foreign policy questions. This is usually a debate of nuance
rather than of fundamental principles, goals, or policies.
The major national dailies are closely identified with
elements of the ruling elite (e.g., the Communist party, the
government apparatus, and the armed forces), and the distinct
interests of each can often be detected in its paper's
columns. In addition, long articles, essays, and columns in
various weeklies present contending views on such matters as
economic and administrative reform, public policy and cadre
matters, the nature and extent of "national reconciliation,"
and the role of the Church and labor unions.
Despite censorship, Poland may still have the least controlled
official press (as distinct from the more tightly run
electronic media) of all Warsaw Pact countries. Some
nongovernmental publications such as Tygodnik Powszechny offer
a wholly credible voice different from that of the
government-run media, although their circulation and impact
are reduced by government restrictions on newsprint and
censorship. There is also an active underground press,
chiefly reflecting the views of the banned Solidarity trade
union and its supporters. It publishes weekly newspapers,
periodicals, books, and, most recently, videotapes that reach
a wide readership in the major cities despite government
efforts to stamp it out. In December, the Government
undertook new efforts to prevent underground press
distribution through confiscation of property, such as
automobiles, and use of punitive fines against those found to
be involved. The underground press nevertheless thrives with
hundreds of publications in circulation.
Amendments adopted in July 1985 to the 1982 Higher Education
Law empower local and national authorities to increase
substantially their control over universities and other
college-level institutions which could significantly increase
the curbs on freedom of inquiry. The changes in the law
provide for the vetting of all candidates for rectorships by
the Minister of Higher Education for a greater degree of
direct government involvement in university operations, and
for strict limitations on the role of university senates and
student self-government. The 1985 amendments legislate the
composition of university senates, reserving seats for party
and other official representatives and senior faculty while
limiting representation for younger faculty, "nonscientif ic"
university employees, and students. In late 1985, over 70
rectors, deans, and department chairmen were dismissed from
their administrative positions in order to ensure tighter
government control. They retained their teaching positions
and tenure, however.
During 1986 the Communist party and the Government repeatedly
called for an increased role for party organizations on
campus. A long-expected "evaluation" of university faculty
members began in the autumn of 1986. Described by the
Government as an attempt to weed out less productive academics
in midlevel positions and to increase opportunities for the
advancement of junior faculty, the "evaluation" is widely
viewed within Polish academic circles as having at least the
potential for abuse as a political instrument to force the
removal of academics whose views do not coincide with those of
the regime. Although Polish institutions of higher learning
still retain a degree of autonomy (which often varies from
campus to campus, depending on the talents and convictions of
individual administrators), the trend over the past 2 years
has been in the direction of greater emphasis on governmental
and ideological control.
At the same time, Poland is also the home of the only
independent university in Eastern Europe, the Catholic
University of Lublin (KUL) . KUL ' s very existence, as well as
its extensive ties to institutions and individuals in the West
(it counts Pope John Paul II among its former faculty members),
is visible evidence of the national and religious traditions
which still help to shape Polish higher education. There are
also a number of diocesan seminaries, independently
administered by the ordinary Bishop in Poland's dioceses.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Freedom of peaceful assembly and association is at government
sufferance and subject to tight restrictions. Permits are
required to hold public meetings or rallies. Requests for
permits for protest meetings are routinely denied. The
frequency and intensity of large-scale public demonstrations
held without government endorsement continued to decline in
1986. Unofficial discussion groups and alternative cultural
events continue to take place in churches and private homes
with the toleration of the authorities.
The law permitting the formation of nonprofit, independent
foundations for certain charitable, social, and health
purposes remains on the books, but negotiations on the Church's
attempt to create a foundation to channel public and private
contributions from the West to aid Polish private agriculture
have ended. The Episcopate of the Roman Catholic Church
announced in September that it had decided to break off
discussions which had gone on for 4 years on the establishment
of this foundation because the Government, in the Church's
view, wanted to exercise excessive control over the
formulation and execution of the foundation's projected
programs .
Under Polish law, associations and clubs need official
permission or sponsorship to function legally. Among the most
significant of Poland's many clubs is the Catholic
Intellectuals' Club (KIK), which has reopened branches in
several cities, including Warsaw and Krakow, since receiving
permission to resume activities after martial law. The KIK
sponsors lecture series and other activities which are open to
the interested public, with little or no interference from the
authorities .
Some officially sponsored professional associations were
formed after the Government's dissolution in 1983 of such
organizations as the writers' and journalists' unions, which
had attained a remarkable degree of independence in 1980-81.
These successor groups have thus far failed to earn the
support of a significant proportion of Poland's intellectuals
despite the material incentives such membership offers. The
Episcopate of the Roman Catholic Church, in two communiques
issued in June and August 1986 after plenary conferences of
the Bishops, called for the right to establish associations
independent from political parties. Poland's chapter of the
Pen Club, an organization of writers with international
connections, remains suspended.
The Trade Union Act of 1982 abolished all previous unions and
set the rules for the formation of successor unions. All
unions must receive court permission to exist. Amendments
passed in 1985 by the Sejm indefinitely postponed the
possibility of trade union pluralism contained in the 1982
law. Government leaders and spokesmen on several occasions in
1986 underscored the official position that union pluralism is
out of the question because it would be divisive in the
workplace and reduce worker efficiency. Leaders of the
official unions, the vast majority of which are grouped under
the umbrella of the National Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ)
formally established in November 1984, have been especially
vehement in their public opposition to trade union pluralism.
The leadership of the OPZZ made clear that the official unions
should be a partner to the authorities, and OPZZ Chairman
Alfred Miodowicz was elected to the Politburo of the Polish
United Workers' Party in June. The program passed at the
November Congress of OPZZ emphasized the role unions are to
play in cooperation with the authorities to increase production
and set as a goal the integration of union structures.
Membership in the OPZZ is claimed to be 6.5 million. This
number constitutes less than half the work force eligible for
membership. The OPZZ withdrew its claim to be the only legal
representative of workers during the December trade union
congress after protests by local unions which were not members
of OPZZ.
Solidarity has not tried to play a significant role in the
official unions, although many of the nearly 10 million
workers, who were members of Solidarity during its legal
period, have joined the new unions. Although illegal as an
organization. Solidarity continues to be active on some worker
self-management councils in some factories.
After the release of political prisoners. Lech Walesa in
September called into being a new Provisional Council of
Solidarity, which the Government subsequently declared to be
illegal. The Council's activities have not, however, been
repressed, reflecting what appears to be a government policy
of not interfering with the Council as long as its
pronouncements have a nonprovocative, passive formulation.
The 1982 law severely circumscribes the right to strike,
making legal work stoppages virtually impossible. Occasional
wildcat strikes have been settled at the factory level.
Leaders of such strikes, if identified, may face
discrimination at the workplace or even loss of their jobs.
Solidarity activists continue to face difficulties in keeping
or reclaiming old jobs, or in securing employment commensurate
with their qualifications.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution guarantees "freedom of conscience and
belief," and Polish citizens, both in law and in fact, enjoy
considerable freedom to practice their religion. However,
party authorities discourage the open practice of religion by
party members. The Roman Catholic Church in Poland has
criticized a new course in comparative religion being
introduced into schools.
Poland is predominantly Roman Catholic; the Roman Catholic
Church maintains over 3,300 churches, schools, and other
institutions, and a vigorous program of building new churches
is going on with state permission. The Catholic Church
publishes significant numbers of books and periodicals, as
does the independent Catholic press, though some practical
restrictions are imposed by limiting access to printing
equipment and government-allocated paper. Sunday Catholic
mass and services of other religions are broadcast over Polish
radio under a provision of the 1980 Gdansk Accords that is
still observed.
Relations between the Government and the Roman Catholic Church
were strained during the first half of 1986 because of the
trauma of the 1984 murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, the
inability to set up a church-sponsored foundation to aid
private agriculture, and the large number of political
prisoners. Tensions receded after the amnesty. The Primate
and the Episcopate as a whole, as well as individual clergy
and Catholic lay leaders, continued to campaign vigorously for
greater individual freedom and respect for human rights,
including the right of individuals to organize themselves
peacefully in various social groupings.
There is no government-sponsored discrimination against
minority religions; but some members of all of these religions
assert that discrimination does occur, primarily as the result
of traditional tensions between the Catholic Church and
Poland's various ethnic minorities. The Muslim and Jewish
faiths and the various Protestant denominations often find it
difficult to maintain their places of worship and train their
clergy, mainly because of the small numbers of their faithful,
widely dispersed congregations, limited financial resources,
and traditional prejudices. The Orthodox faith, the largest
minority religion, is concentrated in Poland's eastern
provinces. Estimates of the nun±)er of its faithful range from
800,000 to 1.5 million. It maintains 350 churches and has
also begun an ambitious program of church building and
monastery renovation. The Orthodox Church sponsors the
publication of a number of books and several periodicals and
broadcasts its masses on Polish radio four times a year. As
the result of recent administrative action, it has obtained
the return of some religious buildings previously under
government control. Apart from financial difficulties, there
have been complaints of Polish ethnic prejudice (most of the
Orthodox faithful in Poland are of Byelorussian, Ukrainian, or
Russian origin). Orthodox believers face a major problem in
maintaining contact with their religious brethren in the
Soviet Union.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
There are no restrictions on travel within Poland. There are
no legal restrictions on changing one's residence but tne
housing shortage makes this nearly impossible in practice.
Cases of persons working in one location and legally
"residing" hundreds of kilometers away are not uncommon.
Travel abroad is permitted to the vast majority under the 1983
law liberalizing passport issuance. The authorities claim
that over 90 percent of applicants obtain passports. Actual
denials of passport applications are not numerous. Denials
are most often received by persons working in areas of
scientific research or industry considered "sensitive" by the
Government. Several prominent dissidents have been denied
passports for visits abroad; others have declined to apply for
passports, fearing that, once out of Poland, they would be
denied the right to return.
In order to receive an emigration passport. Poles must divest
themselves of all real property and obtain customs permission
for any personal items they wish to take with them. Although
most applicants for emigration passports eventually obtain
them, certain cases appear to require an unduly lengthy
waiting period. While a few Solidarity members, formerly
interned or jailed because of their activity, have been denied
passports when seeking to relocate to another country, many
others have been encouraged to leave, as the Government tries
to rid the country of persons it views as "troublesome." Once
having established legal residence abroad, a Polish citizen
must exchange an emigration or, in some cases, a tourist
passport, for a consular passport (one issued by a Polish
Consulate) . Otherwise there are no formal restrictions on an
emigrant's return to Poland.
Only Polish citizens who have been issued emigration passports
are legally permitted to take up residence in another
country. Polish citizens who return to Poland with tourist
passports after establishing a residence abroad may experience
difficulties in obtaining a reissuance of their tourist
passports. Polish citizens who emigrate legally from Poland
and who desire to return for brief visits on consular
passports generally experience few difficulties with the
authorities .
Under Polish law, only the Council of State may revoke
citizenship. Involuntary revocation must be based on one of
the following activities: actions violating the duty of
allegiance to the Polish State; actions detrimental to the
substantial interests of Poland; departure from Poland after
May 9, 1945, and failure to return when so requested by the
Polish Government; evasion of military service; or conviction
abroad of a crime also recognized as a felony under Polish
criminal law. The Government recently used this prerogative
in revoking the citizenship of two former ambassadors who
defected to the United States, as well as the citizenship of a
Polish journalist now working for Radio Free Europe.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
Poland is ruled by the PUWP, or Communist party, through
General Jaruzelski who, with a small group of advisers,
determines national policy goals. They implement policy
through the government ministries and through a parallel party
bureaucracy which complements and interacts with the
ministries. Unlike elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the party is
not always clearly the dominant force. Various economic
ministries, as well as the military and security service,
often play key roles, not only in exercising power but also
sometimes in setting policies. The two other coalition
partners, the United Peasants Party and the Democratic Party,
are completely responsive to PUWP guidance. The Patriotic
Movement for National Rebirth, an umbrella group of political,
economic, and social organizations cooperates with the
authorities .
The Constitution specifies that the Sejm is the chief
legislative body of Poland. The Sejm can be counted on to
pass, nearly unanimously, any legislation that the Prime
Minister and the relevant bureaucracies believe is necessary.
Nevertheless, when the authorities seemed undecided or divided
during 1986, deputies in the Sejm were on occasion able to
modify proposed legislation, especially in behind-the-scenes
committee sessions.
During and after the PUWP's 10th Congress, there were several
official proposals to democratize society and make the Govern-
ment more responsive to society's needs. The Government
proposed the creation of a new office of "ombudsman," or
Spokesman for Citizens' Rights, which is presently under
discussion. The government spokesman said that it would be
inadmissible for prominent Solidarity leaders to participate
in official activities. In December the Government announced
creation of a 50-member Consultative Council composed of
proregime and some independent figures. Many leading
dissidents declined to participate. The powers of the Council
and the extent of its influence on policy are as yet unclear.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights
The Government of Poland is party to many international
covenants with human rights components, including the Final
Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe,
signed in 1975. Government authorities typically contend,
however, that international and nongovernmental incjuiries into
the state of human rights in Poland based on these agreements
constitute interference in Poland's internal affairs. The
Polish Government never cooperated in the implementation of
the 1983 Resolution of the U.N. Human Rights Commission asking
the U.N. Secretary General or his designee to do a
comprehensive report on the human rights situation in Poland.
Poland's decision to withdraw from the ILO, announced in 1984
and scheduled to take effect in November 1986, was made in
response to the decision of the ILO's Executive Board to take
formal notice of the report of the ILO's Commission of Inquiry
into violations of international labor standards. The Polish
Government announced on November 14 that it had decided to
postpone its decision to withdraw from the ILO for 1 year,
citing the recommendation of the OPZZ and the expectation that
the ILO would change its unfriendly attitude towards Poland as
reasons for the decision.
There are no government-controlled or sponsored organizations
in Poland devoted exclusively to human rights issues.
Independent human rights groups have no official permission to
exist. Nevertheless, late in 1986 there were established the
Human Rights League centered in Szczecin and a human rights
group called into being by Lech Walesa and associated with
Solidarity. The anonymous Polish Helsinki Committee compiles
occasional reports evaluating the human rights situation in
Poland. For example, it prepared a report on "The Violation
of Human Rights and Basic Freedoms in the Polish People's
Republic 1983-86" for the 1986 review meeting in Vienna of the
Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Underground
publications frequently raise questions about human rights
practices in Poland, focusing particular attention in 1986 on
the problem of political prisoners and on allegations that
some were suffering mistreatment in prison.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,
Language, or Social Status
Women's rights have not become a public issue in Poland.
Historical circumstances, including World War II losses,
helped open access for women into many previously closed
professions. Women work in all blue-collar trades, except for
heavy mining and steel, and in all professional fields.
Despite their major presence in the work force and the fact
demonstrated by government statistics that they are generally
better educated than men, women usually earn less than their
male counterparts, and only a small proportion of women are
found in the higher levels of local and national government.
Poland has had a liberal maternity and child care leave policy
dating to the Solidarity-inspired Gdansk Accords, though some
of its tenets seem to be changing. Women are now entitled to
3 (formerly 4) months of paid maternity leave, and
increasingly fewer are able to opt for the supposedly
guaranteed maximum of 3 years of unpaid child care leave,
after which they are guaranteed a job at the same level of
pay. To the extent that this policy is being continued, it
has some social benefits in terms of child-rearing and
strengthening of the family; it also takes pressure off
Poland's miniscule official day-care system for young
children, in which only 1.2 percent of all women are able to
find a place for their children.
The Polish labor code generally forbids the employment of a
person who has not reached the age of 15. The employment of a
"young person", defined as aged 15 through 18, is permitted,
provided the individual has completed basic schooling.
Special exceptions are sometimes required if a particular job
might pose a health danger. The labor code specifies that a
"young person" without professional qualification may be
employed only for the purpose of vocational preparation,
although again there is a provision for special exceptions.
The length and distribution of hours of work is regulated by
the Polish labor code. Paid annual holidays are provided
for. In practice, most families find that both husband and
wife must be employed in order to sustain an acceptable
standard of living. The minimum conditions for the protection
of worker health and safety spelled out in the Polish labor
code seem, in most respects, adequate. Poland, however,
suffers serious environmental pollution problems, some of
which particularly affect worker health. There are frequent
allegations that some plants fail to maintain
government-regulated worker health and safety standards, and
the official media occasionally publicize such cases.