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TVP occupation. “Deputy’s point-of-care intervention”. MP Przydacz about a law that does not exist

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According to lawyers, the presence and behavior of PiS politicians in the offices of public media exceeded the limits of parliamentary intervention. But Marcin Przydacz from PiS argues that MPs can do this – as part of “parliamentary point-of-care intervention”. However, there is no such thing in Polish law.

Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz, referring to the Commercial Companies Code, canceled On December 19, 2023, the presidents of the management boards of Telewizja Polska, Polish Radio and the Polish Press Agency and their supervisory boards. A day later, a dozen or so PiS MPs entered the Warsaw headquarters of television, radio and agencies, starting their “occupation” in the form of rotating shifts. They decided who could enter the buildings of media companies, tried to ID the people entering and stop employees.

On December 27, Minister Sienkiewicz put the public media into liquidation, and PiS MPs announced that they would limit their presence in media headquarters to the TVP building at Powstańców Warszawy Square in Warsaw (the Television Information Agency is located there). They were also there after the New Year. As they explained, they were on duty as part of parliamentary interventions because the law was being broken. The head of the PiS club, Mariusz Błaszczak, asked on January 3 on Radio Zet whether spending Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve at the TVP headquarters was parliamentary control, replied: “Yes, it is parliamentary control.”

In turn, PiS MP Marcin Przydacz, during a discussion in “Kawa na Ławę” on TVN24 on December 31, 2023, defended the legitimacy of the actions of PiS MPs: “In both PAP, Polish Television and Polish Radio, point-by-point parliamentary interventions are and will continue when when the need arises.” And he explained:

[Poselska] point intervention, i.e. in a situation where the law is directly broken.

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When asked by the Deputy Speaker of the Sejm, Piotr Zgorzelski from PSL, what legal acts include “point intervention”, MP Przydacz pointed to articles 19 and 20 of the Act on the exercise of the mandate of a deputy and senator. To the comment of the host of the program, Konrad Piasecki, that “point intervention is a new concept”, Marcin Przydacz insisted that there is a “point-based parliamentary intervention” and that “it can be implemented in a short time, it can be implemented in a longer time”, that “such things are happening.”

So we checked what the Act on the exercise of the mandate of a deputy and senator stipulates when it comes to parliamentary intervention.

The MP’s right to information and the right to intervene – but not “point-wise”

Describes the rights and obligations of deputies and senators Act of May 9, 1996 on the exercise of the mandate of a deputy and senator. Art. cited by MP Przydacz. 19 presents the parliamentarian’s right to obtain information about the activities of institutions and companies:

1. In the performance of his mandate, a deputy or senator has the right, provided he does not violate the personal rights of other persons, to obtain information and materials, to enter the premises where this information and materials are located, and to inspect the activities of government administration bodies and local government, and also companies with State Treasury shareholding, as well as state and local government plants and enterprises, in compliance with the provisions on legally protected secrets. 2. The rules and procedure for making classified information available to Deputies and Senators are specified in the provisions on the protection of classified information.

Art. refers to the intervention by deputies and senators to solve an issue or problem. 20 of this Act:

1. A deputy or senator has the right to intervene – in the performance of his/her duties as a deputy or senator – in a government administration body and local government, a state-owned institution or enterprise and a social organization, as well as in non-state economy units, in order to settle a matter brought on his/her own behalf or on behalf of the voter or voters, as well as become familiar with the course of its consideration. 2. Bodies and units mentioned in section 1, in relation to which a deputy or senator has intervened, are obliged to notify the deputy or senator about the status of the case and, within fourteen days at the latest, to settle the matter within a time agreed with the deputy or senator.

From the point of view of the presence of PiS MPs in the offices of public media, the following paragraphs of this article are important:

3. Managers of the bodies and units referred to in section 1, are obliged to immediately receive a deputy or senator who has arrived in connection with a matter arising from the performance of his mandate, and provide information and explanations regarding the matter. 4. A parliamentary or senator’s ID card authorizes a parliamentarian to enter the premises of the units referred to in section 1.

Therefore, there is nothing about “point intervention” in the two articles mentioned by Mr. Przydacz.

Constitutional scholar Dr. Mateusz Radajewski from the Faculty of Law and Social Communication at SWPS University in Wrocław explains in an opinion for Konkret24: “The Act on the exercise of the mandate of a deputy and senator does not provide for any specific type of parliamentary interventions that could be called point-based interventions.” In his opinion, “basically, every parliamentary intervention or control is ‘point-based’ because it always concerns a specific institution and is usually limited to specific matters.”

The right to enter the facility does not mean the right to block activities

Interestingly – as noted by Dr. Krzysztof Wygoda from the University of Wrocław and Dr. Dariusz Wasiak from the WSB University in Wrocław – “the model of parliamentary intervention, built in the times of the Polish People’s Republic”, continues. This is because – they remind us in their work from 2021 entitled “Parliamentary intervention – a necessary, unnecessary or harmful institution? An attempt to answer” – these regulations are a carbon copy of the adopted solutions in the Act of July 31, 1985 on the duties and rights of members of the Sejm of the Polish People’s Republic.

However, the problem with the interventions of PiS MPs carried out in the offices of media companies is not about their “on-point” nature (i.e. that they take place in a given building), but about exceeding the limits set by the provisions of the Act. It gives parliamentarians the right to enter offices, institutions and companies, and imposes on their heads the obligation to provide MPs and senators with information and materials and to notify them within two weeks about the status of consideration of the case that is the subject of the intervention, but:

In accordance with the law, parliamentary inspections and interventions are intended to obtain information and deal with specific matters. They cannot be used to block activities that a parliamentarian considers unlawful.

This is the expert’s explanation sent to the Konkret24 editorial office.

MP Przydacz claims that “interventions are related to breaking the law on TVP.” Meanwhile, according to Dr. Radajewski, “if an MP or senator has obtained information that indicates the possibility of committing a crime, he should notify the law enforcement authorities.” It is not the role or task of an MP to assess whether a crime has occurred and to prevent people suspected of committing an alleged crime from working.

WITH statements a spokesman for the Warsaw district prosecutor’s office published by PAP on December 22, 2023 shows that several PiS MPs taking part in interventions in the offices of public media submitted notifications on suspicion of committing a crime by a “member of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland (notification of a member of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland), exceeding official powers by the Minister Culture and National Heritage (including notifications from Marcin Romanowski, Member of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, Krzysztof Szczucki, Member of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, Kacper Płażyński, Member of the Parliament of the Republic of Poland, and Patryk Jaki, MEP), failure to leave the premises of the Polish Press Agency (notification from Wojciech Surmacz), as well as forcing a specific behavior by force and threats, not leaving the premises of the TVP headquarters and exceeding official powers by public officials (notification by Tomasz Sygut)”.

Parliamentary intervention and illegal occupation

Meanwhile, the interventions of PiS MPs turned into a rotating occupation of the TVP building. “The occupation of the premises is certainly an abuse of powers under the Act,” says Dr. Radajewski. The Act does not provide for MPs to be able to stay in a specific unit for an unlimited period of time as part of parliamentary interventions. “The MP can do this only for the time necessary to obtain the necessary information or become familiar with the course of dealing with a specific matter,” explains Dr. Radajewski.

Lawyers who December 28 on TVN24 analyzed the behavior of PiS MPs, they thought similarly. “This is an abuse of powers. Parliamentary intervention is not an authorization for any behavior, that’s not how it works,” said lawyer Sylwia Gregorczyk-Abram. “A parliamentary intervention is not a parliamentary occupation,” emphasized Prof. Maciej Gutowski from the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań. “The MP cannot stay in the building as long as he likes. He has the right to demand clarification of the matter, and the institution has 14 days to respond to him,” he added.

The act also does not give any rights to the intervening parliamentarians to move freely within the premises of a given unit. Ph.D. Piotr Uiębło, professor at the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Gdańsk, in the commentary to art. 20 of the Act on the performance of the mandate of a deputy and senator stated: “The entity managing the entity must ensure that the parliamentarian can move around its premises, but it cannot be assumed that such movement is to be completely free, as it could cause not only a certain disorganization of their activities, but sometimes “also a threat to the safety of the parliamentarian and other people in the given area.”

Identification, detention – beyond the limits of intervention

In the case of PiS MPs, we had situations when, for example, Antoni Macierewicz tried to ID a person who wanted to enter the headquarters of the Polish Press Agency, and MP Jacek Ozdoba tried to stop and also ID one of TVP employees on the street in front of the TVP headquarters.

“Taking such actions does not fall within the limits of parliamentary intervention,” warns Dr. Radajewski. “It does not seem that obtaining specific personal data about people staying in a given entity could be an acceptable form of getting to know its activities” – he adds. In his opinion, the way to obtain information about the activities of an institution is not to arrest a specific person. “Of course, it may happen that, as if on the occasion of a parliamentary intervention, the MP will make a citizen’s arrest pursuant to Article 243 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, but such a right is available to every person who is an eyewitness to a crime or a pursuit; therefore, it is not a parliamentary right or a form of parliamentary intervention.” – says the expert.

Main photo source: Marcin Obara/PAP

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