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Draft law on the use of weapons by Polish services. It contains four types of situations

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Violation of the rules on the use of weapons in specific cases will not be a crime – according to the draft bill supporting the activities of the army, police and Border Guard published on the government's website. The project also includes, among others: definition of “peacetime military operation” in the country.

Announced by the Prime Minister in recent days Donald Tusk and the Ministry of National Defense, the project was published on government websites on Monday. As we read, it has now been referred to the Standing Committee of the Council of Ministers, and will then be the topic of Wednesday's government meeting.

The project is a set of proposals to amend some of the provisions in the acts regulating the operation of the army, police and Border Guard in Poland – including: to the Penal Code, to the Act on the Defense of the Homeland, i.e. the basic act regulating the operation of the army, to the Acts on the Border Guard and the Police, as well as, among others, the Act on means of direct coercion and firearms, regulating their use by soldiers and service officers.

Some people trying to cross the border are looking for confrontation with the Polish servicesAttila Hussein/Forum

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The key proposed provisions concern the rules for the use of weapons by soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces and officers of the Border Guard and the police. One of the main changes announced earlier is the introduction of a counter-type into the Penal Code, i.e. exclusion of liability for a crime committed in special conditions. As we read in the proposed regulations, “no crime is committed by a soldier, police officer or Border Guard officer who, in violation of the rules on the use of direct coercive measures and firearms, issues an order to use them or uses them himself in specific cases – if the situation requires immediate action.”

Four types of situations

Four types of situations are specified in which a soldier or officer will not commit a crime by violating the rules on the use of weapons. The first is the need to “repel a direct and unlawful attack on the inviolability of the state border by a person who forces crossing the state border using a vehicle, firearm or other dangerous object.”

The second is the issue of acting in self-defense – in the need to “repel a direct and unlawful attack on the life, health or freedom of a soldier, Police or Border Guard officer or other person, undertaken in the event of a direct and unlawful attack on the inviolability of the state border.”

The third situation is the need to “counteract activities aimed directly at attacking the life, health or freedom of a soldier, Police or Border Guard officer or other person, in the event of a direct and unlawful attack on the inviolability of the state border.”

The fourth category includes situations where “it is necessary to resist a person who does not comply with the request to immediately abandon a weapon, explosive or other dangerous item, the use of which may threaten the life, health or freedom of that soldier” or officer.

Changes also for those accused of improper use of weapons

Additionally, soldiers and officers against whom cases have been initiated for the improper use of weapons will, under the proposed regulations, be able to request a public defender. In addition, they are to be entitled to financial assistance to provide legal assistance, as well as reimbursement of legal assistance costs in the event of discontinuation of the proceedings.

In addition, the commander of the unit in which the accused soldier or officer serves is to decide whether to allow the accused to receive full remuneration. These provisions are also to be applied to matters commenced before the Act enters into force.

The issue of rules for the use of weapons by soldiers during military operations in peacetime is to be added to the Homeland Defense Act. As it was emphasized, the use of weapons may occur “only upon prior order of the commander as a special and final measure.”

Polish-Belarusian border (photo from August 30, 2021)Artur Reszko/PAP

“Weapons or other weapons are used when the use of direct coercive measures is not possible due to the circumstances of the event or the intended goal cannot be achieved using these measures,” the proposed regulations also add.

“Military operation conducted on the territory of the Republic of Poland in peacetime”

The project also provides for the introduction of terminology regarding “military operations conducted on the territory of the Republic of Poland in peacetime” to the Act on the Defense of the Homeland. As indicated, such an operation should be understood as “organized action of the Armed Forces carried out to ensure the external security of the state, not constituting training or an exercise”, as well as action on the territory of Polish troops allied forces supporting the Polish Army. The President, at the request of the Council of Ministers, will decide on the use of the Armed Forces for a military operation in the country.

The project also includes, among others: clarifying the rules for detaining soldiers by the Military Police. “In the event of detention of a soldier performing active military service, soldiers of the Military Police, in the course of performing their official duties, are additionally obliged to respect the dignity and honor of the soldier and military service, including the uniform of a soldier of the Polish Army, using detention during the performance of official activities or tasks by this soldier as “a last resort, unless it is necessary to arrest a soldier red-handed,” we read in the proposed regulations that are intended to amend the current Act on the Military Police and military law enforcement agencies.

The project regulates cooperation and communication between services

The project also regulates, among others: principles of cooperation between the Border Guard and the Police. “In the event of a threat to public safety or order, if the Border Guard forces are insufficient or may prove insufficient to perform their tasks, the minister responsible for internal affairs, at the request of the Commander-in-Chief of the Border Guard, specifying the scope and form of assistance, may order the use of Police officers to providing assistance to the Border Guard,” we read in the proposed regulations.

Polish-Belarusian borderArtur Reszko/PAP

The following will also be improved, among others: communication between the army and the police. In the article regarding the decision to support police activities by the Polish Army, it is proposed to add a provision under which, in urgent cases, the decision to provide assistance to the police by the army may be submitted “also orally, by telephone, by means of electronic communication or via by other means of communication, and their content and important reasons for handling the matter are recorded in written form on paper.

Similar provisions have been proposed regarding military support for Border Guard officers. Moreover, the draft proposes adding a provision to the SG Act, pursuant to which, in justified cases, the head of Ministry of Interior and Administration may, at the request of the Chief Commander of the Border Guard, order the use of police forces to support border guards. In urgent cases, such a decision is to be made by the Chief Commander of Police, who notifies the Ministry of Interior and Administration. The project is also intended to clarify the provisions regarding the use of direct coercive measures, such as incapacitating nets, water cannons or flash-bang grenades by Police or Border Guard officers serving at the border.

The government announced changes to regulations in these areas after While serving on the border with Belarus, one of the soldiers died when he was stabbed by a person trying to cross itwhich coincided with press reports about the arrest of three soldiers for firing warning shots at the border.

Main photo source: Attila Hussein/Forum



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