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Journalists detained at the border with Belarus. The Ombudsman submits a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court

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Three journalists from ARTE and AFP television were punished by a court for violating the prohibition on staying in the area of ​​emergency. The Ombudsman, Marcin Wiącek, stated that the ban had been introduced contrary to the constitution. The Commissioner for Human Rights demands that journalists be acquitted. He appealed to the Supreme Court.

It is about three journalists from the German-French TV ARTE and AFP – two Germans – reporter Ulrika and operator Andreas. A Pole – Maja Czarnecka, who works in the Warsaw branch of the AFP agency, cooperated with them.

Journalists were detained on September 28 due to the suspicion that they violated the ban on staying in this area while staying in the town where the state of emergency was introduced. They were taken to the police station, the policemen took their equipment, documents and telephones. They spent the day in police cells, and the next day they were taken to court. Ulrike and Andreas entered the room handcuffed.

The district court found the journalists guilty of the wrongdoing and reprimanded them. Journalists, among others, are not allowed to enter the area of ​​the state of emergency, which means that the only information about the situation on the spot comes from the Border Guard and state authorities.

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Ombudsman: the introduced ban violates the constitution and the press law

On page Ombudsman it was reported that Marcin Wiącek he disagreed with the judgment of the district court and submitted a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court, in which he requested that the judgment under appeal be set aside and the punished persons acquitted.

He explained that the state of emergency was introduced by a presidential order, as a result of which the government issued a regulation prohibiting people from staying in the area covered by the state of emergency, which was valid 24 hours a day. In the opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights, the government has exceeded the limitations of individual rights set out in the presidential decree, which concern the prohibition of staying at a fixed time and in marked places, facilities and areas.

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According to Wiącek, in the ordinance, the government should mark individual places, objects and areas in the area covered by the state of emergency, where it is forbidden to stay, and thus clarify the area and objective scope of restrictions on the constitutional freedom of movement. As it was added in the appeal, the Council of Ministers should also establish in the regulation the time period for the prohibition and the group of entities covered by it.

The Commissioner for Human Rights pointed out that the government introduced a general, 24-hour ban on staying in the entire area covered by the state of emergency, with the exception of certain people and situations. He stated here that the government ordinance did not specify the restrictions permitted by the president, but extended them.

The Commissioner for Human Rights also pointed out that “the Council of Ministers could not, by introducing a general ban on staying in the area covered by the state of emergency, applicable 24 hours a day, exclude journalists from exercising the constitutional freedom of obtaining information in the area covered by the state of emergency”.

As a consequence – as we read – the ban from the government ordinance is inconsistent with the constitution and the press law. “It prevents journalists from collecting materials in the area of ​​the state of emergency” – explained Wiącek.

READ MORE: A day in a cell, brought to court in handcuffs. Journalists detained at the border

The Ombudsman also wrote that the provisions of the ordinance may only clarify the content of the act, but cannot regulate social life in a broader way than under the act. He described that the provisions of the ordinance cannot directly lead to the violation of constitutional norms.

“The prohibition from the regulation of the Council of Ministers should therefore be considered unconstitutional, and thus illegal. Therefore, it could not be the basis for punishment,” said the Human Rights Defender.

Main photo source: PAP / Artur Reszko



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