Monika Horna-Cieślak was sworn in as the Ombudsman for Children on Wednesday. The lawyer and activist replaced the widely criticized, ideologically committed Mikołaj Pawlak. Foundations and non-governmental organizations hope for big changes, because Horna-Cieślak has been protecting children’s rights for nineteen years.
What most wanted Monika Horny-Cieślak as the Ombudsman for Children was not politicians, but children. Several minutes after taking the oath in the Sejm, she announced her first decision. – This is the calling of my deputy. A young person, a social activist, a person who has an amazing heart, a beautiful mind, is extraordinary. This person is Janek Gawroński – she said.
Seventeen-year-old Jan Gawroński is on the autism spectrum. As an activist, he works to improve the quality of life of people on the spectrum. From now on, he is also the first social deputy in the office of the Ombudsman for Children. – We need the voice of the young generation, of course, as a deputy, I will also disseminate and expand awareness of children’s rights, human rights, and in particular the rights of children and young people with disabilities – Gawroński assures.
Monika Horny-Cieślak’s candidacy was proposed by youth organizations and supported by the Polish Bar Council. An attorney, activist and social activist, she has been protecting children’s rights for nineteen years. She worked, among others, at the Empowering Children Foundation. – She has cooperated extensively with judges, probation officers, and lawyers, and is an attorney herself who also represents children in cases where their rights are harmed – notes Renata Szredzińska from the Empowering Children Foundation.
In recent months, Monika Horna-Cieślak has been involved in the death of 8-year-old Kamilek from Częstochowa. As a co-author of the so-called Act, Kamilka introduced new solutions into the Polish legal system aimed at improving the safety of children and young people. – Kamilek’s case will be a case in which I will personally want to join the proceedings – announces the new Ombudsman for Children.
He will replace Mikołaj Pawlak
Horna-Cieślak, taking over the office of the previous spokesman, announced many changes. – This is not an office of the views of one person, it is not an office of the views of political parties – he emphasizes.
Mikołaj Pawlak said goodbye to the office of the Ombudsman for Children, writing that he managed to “protect children and faith.” However, activists working for children’s rights remind that the former spokesman spoke positively about “spanking” in interviews. He publicly called the in vitro method wicked. He also criticized the Rainbow Friday organized by young people, inspected schools that were friendly to LGBTQ+ people, and called the rainbow flag a “colorful rag.”
– He implemented the ideology, worldview, views and probably the dispositions primarily of his party, i.e. PiS – says Mirosława Kątna from the Committee for the Protection of Children’s Rights.
Monika Horna-Cieślak first wants to deal with children’s mental health and their safety online, establishing teams of experts for this purpose. – We hope that it will support projects such as next year’s Rainbow Friday, to show that institutionally the Office of the Ombudsman for Children is on the side of young people – says Dominik Kuc from the GrowSpace Foundation.
Main photo source: PAP/Radek Pietruszka