International Criminology World

World : Europe : Poland

Poland's written history begins with the reign of Mieszko I, who accepted Christianity for himself and his kingdom in AD 966. The Polish state reached its zenith under the Jagiellonian dynasty in the years following the union with Lithuania in 1386 and the subsequent defeat of the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald in 1410. The monarchy survived many upheavals but eventually went into a decline, which ended with the final partition of Poland by Prussia, Russia, and Austria in 1795. Independence for Poland was one of the 14 points enunciated by President Woodrow Wilson during World War I. Many Polish; Americans enlisted in the military services to further this aim, and the United States worked at the postwar conference to ensure its implementation. However, the Poles were largely responsible for achieving their own independence in 1918. Authoritarian rule predominated for most of the period before World War II. On August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Ribbentrop-Molotov nonaggression pact, which secretly provided for the dismemberment of Poland into Nazi and Soviet-controlled zones. On September 1, 1939, Hitler ordered his troops into Poland. On September 17, Soviet troops invaded and then occupied eastern Poland under the terms of this agreement. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Poland was completely occupied by German troops.

The Poles formed an underground resistance movement and a government in exile, first in Paris and later in London, which was recognized by the Soviet Union. During World War II, 400,000 Poles fought under Soviet command, and 200,000 went into combat on Western fronts in units loyal to the Polish government in exile. In April 1943, the Soviet Union broke relations with the Polish government in exile after the German military announced that they had discovered mass graves of murdered Polish army officers at Katyn, in the U.S.S.R. (The Soviets claimed that the Poles had insulted them by requesting that the Red Cross investigate these reports.) In July 1944, the Soviet Red Army entered Poland and established a communist-controlled "Polish Committee of National Liberation" at Lublin. Resistance against the Nazis in Warsaw, including uprisings by Jews in the Warsaw ghetto and by the Polish underground, was brutally suppressed. As the Germans retreated in January 1945, they leveled the city. During the war, about 6 million Poles were killed, and 2.5 million were deported to Germany for forced labor. More than 3 million Jews (all but about 100,000 of the Jewish population) were killed in death camps like those at Oswiecim (Auschwitz), Treblinka, and Majdanek. Following the Yalta Conference in February 1945, a Polish Provisional Government of National Unity was formed in June 1945; the U.S. recognized it the next month. Although the Yalta agreement called for free elections, those held in January 1947 were controlled by the Communist Party. The communists then established a regime entirely under their domination.

In October 1956, after the 20th ("de-Stalinization") Soviet Party Congress at Moscow and riots by workers in Poznan, there was a shakeup in the communist regime. While retaining most traditional communist economic and social aims, the regime of First Secretary Wladyslaw Gomulka liberalized Polish internal life. In 1968, the trend reversed when student demonstrations were suppressed and an "anti-Zionist" campaign initially directed against Gomulka supporters within the party eventually led to the emigration of much of Poland's remaining Jewish population. In December 1970, disturbances and strikes in the port cities of Gdansk, Gdynia, and Szczecin, triggered by a price increase for essential consumer goods, reflected deep dissatisfaction with living and working conditions in the country. Edward Gierek replaced Gomulka as First Secretary. Fueled by large infusions of Western credit, Poland's economic growth rate was one of the worlds highest during the first half of the 1970s. But much of the borrowed capital was misspent, and the centrally planned economy was unable to use the new resources effectively. The growing debt burden became insupportable in the late 1970s, and economic growth had become negative by 1979. In October 1978, the Bishop of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, became Pope John Paul II, head of the Roman Catholic Church. Polish Catholics rejoiced at the elevation of a Pole to the papacy and greeted his June 1979 visit to Poland with an outpouring of emotion. In July 1980, with the Polish foreign debt at more than $20 billion, the government made another attempt to increase meat prices. A chain reaction of strikes virtually paralyzed the Baltic coast by the end of August and, for the first time, closed most coal mines in Silesia. Poland was entering into an extended crisis that would change the course of its future development.

On August 31, 1980, workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, led by an electrician named Lech Walesa, signed a 21-point agreement with the government that ended their strike. Similar agreements were signed at Szczecin and in Silesia. The key provision of these agreements was the guarantee of the workers' right to form independent trade unions and the right to strike. After the Gdansk agreement was signed, a new national union movement--"Solidarity"--swept Poland. The discontent underlying the strikes was intensified by revelations of widespread corruption and mismanagement within the Polish state and party leadership. In September 1980, Gierek was replaced by Stanislaw Kania as First Secretary. Alarmed by the rapid deterioration of the PZPR's authority following the Gdansk agreement, the Soviet Union proceeded with a massive military buildup along Poland's border in December 1980. In February 1981, Defense Minister Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski assumed the position of Prime Minister as well, and in October 1981, he also was named party First Secretary. At the first Solidarity national congress in September-October 1981, Lech Walesa was elected national chairman of the union. On December 12-13, the regime declared martial law, under which the army and special riot police were used to crush the union. Virtually all Solidarity leaders and many affiliated intellectuals were arrested or detained. The United States and other Western countries responded to martial law by imposing economic sanctions against the Polish regime and against the Soviet Union. Unrest in Poland continued for several years thereafter. In a series of slow, uneven steps, the Polish regime rescinded martial law. In December 1982, martial law was suspended, and a small number of political prisoners were released. Although martial law formally ended in July 1983 and a general amnesty was enacted, several hundred political prisoners remained in jail. In July 1984, another general amnesty was declared, and 2 years later, the government had released nearly all political prisoners. The authorities continued, however, to harass dissidents and Solidarity activists. Solidarity remained proscribed and its publications banned. Independent publications were censored.

The government's inability to forestall Poland's economic decline led to waves of strikes across the country in April, May, and August 1988. In an attempt to take control of the situation, the government gave de facto recognition to Solidarity, and Interior Minister Kiszczak began talks with Lech Walesa on August 31. These talks broke off in October, but a new series, the "roundtable" talks, began in February 1989. These talks produced an agreement in April for partly open National Assembly elections. The June election produced a Sejm (lower house), in which one-third of the seats went to communists and one-third went to the two parties which had hitherto been their coalition partners. The remaining one-third of the seats in the Sejm and all those in the Senate were freely contested; virtually all of these were won by candidates supported by Solidarity. The failure of the communists at the polls produced a political crisis. The roundtable agreement called for a communist president, and on July 19, the National Assembly, with the support of some Solidarity deputies, elected General Jaruzelski to that office. Two attempts by the communists to form governments failed, however. On August 19, President Jaruzelski asked journalist/Solidarity activist Tadeusz Mazowiecki to form a government; on September 12, the Sejm voted approval of Prime Minister Mazowiecki and his cabinet. For the first time in more than 40 years, Poland had a government led by noncommunists. In December 1989, the Sejm approved the government's reform program to transform the Polish economy rapidly from centrally planned to free-market, amended the constitution to eliminate references to the "leading role" of the Communist Party, and renamed the country the "Republic of Poland." The Polish United Workers' (Communist) Party dissolved itself in January 1990, creating in its place a new party, Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland. Most of the property of the former Communist Party was turned over to the state. The May 1990 local elections were entirely free. Candidates supported by Solidarity's Citizens' Committees won most of the races they contested, although voter turnout was only a little over 40%. The cabinet was reshuffled in July 1990; the national defense and interior affairs ministers--hold-overs from the previous communist government--were among those replaced. In October 1990, the constitution was amended to curtail the term of President Jaruzelski. In December, Lech Walesa became the first popularly elected President of Poland.

Poland in the early 1990s made great progress toward achieving a fully democratic government and a market economy. In November 1990, Lech Walesa was elected President for a 5-year term. Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, at Walesa's request, formed a government and served as its Prime Minister until October 1991, introducing world prices and greatly expanding the scope of private enterprise. Poland's first free parliamentary elections were held in 1991. More than 100 parties participated, representing a full spectrum of political views. No single party received more than 13% of the total vote. After a rough start, 1993 saw the second group of elections, and the first parliament to actually serve a full term. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) received the largest percentage of votes. After the election, the SLD and PSL formed a governing coalition. Waldemar Pawlak, leader of the junior partner PSL, became Prime Minister. Relations between President Walesa and the Prime Minister remained poor throughout the Pawlak government, with President Walesa charging Pawlak with furthering personal and party interests while neglecting matters of state importance. Following a number of scandals implicating Pawlak and increasing political tension over control of the armed forces, President Walesa demanded Pawlak's resignation in January 1995. In the ensuing political crisis, the coalition removed Pawlak from office and replaced him with the SLD's Jozef Oleksy as the new Prime Minister. In November 1995, Poland held its second post-war free presidential elections. SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski defeated Walesa by a narrow margin--51.7% to 48.3%. Soon after Walesa's defeat, Interior Minister Andrzej Milczanowski accused then-Prime Minister Oleksy of longtime collaboration with Soviet and later Russian intelligence. In the ensuing political crisis, Oleksy resigned. For his successor, The SLD-PSL coalition turned to deputy Sejm speaker Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz--who was linked to, but not a member of, the SLD. Polish prosecutors subsequently decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge Oleksy, and a parliamentary commission decided in November 1996 that the Polish intelligence services may have violated rules of procedure in gathering evidence in the Oleksy case. In 1997 parliamentary elections two parties with roots in the Solidarity movement--Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the Freedom Union (UW)--won 261 of the 460 seats in the Sejm and formed a coalition government. Jerzy Buzek of the AWS was the Prime Minister. The AWS and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) held the majority of the seats in the Sejm. Marian Krzaklewski was the leader of the AWS, and Leszek Miller led the SLD. In June 2000, UW withdrew from the governing collation, leaving AWS at the helm of a minority government. Poland's September 2001 parliamentary elections saw the center-left Democratic Left Alliance (SLD--successor to the communist party twice removed), triumph and form a coalition with the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) and leftist Union of Labor (UP), with Leszek Miller (SLD) as Prime Minister. Together, the parties hold 256 of the 460 seats in the Sejm.

Today, Poland is a multiparty parliamentary democracy in which executive power is shared by the Prime Minister, the Council of Ministers, and to a lesser extent, the President. Alexander Kwasniewski was reelected President in free and fair elections held in October 2000. The Parliament is bicameral (Senate and Sejm). Free and fair parliamentary elections held in September resulted in a change in Government. The social democratic (post-Communist) Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) formed a majority coalition government with the Union of Labor (UP) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL). The Government respects the constitutional provisions for an independent judiciary; however, the judiciary is inefficient.



The country's population is approximately 39 million. After several years of strong growth in the mid-1990's, the economy slowed starting in 1998 as a result of the Russian financial crisis and economic slowdown in the country's largest export markets in Europe. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth dropped to 4.0 percent in 2000. In 2000 the per capita gross national product was $4,200. Inflation dropped to 8.5 percent in December 2000 and decreased to 3.6 percent by year's end 2001. The ongoing process of restructuring and increasing numbers of youths entering the labor force as a result of the postmartial law baby boom have increased unemployment. By year's end 2001, the official unemployment rate was 17.4 percent. Since 1989 most small- and medium-sized state-owned enterprises have been privatized, and the Government launched privatizations of major state-owned enterprises such as insurance, telephone, airline, power generation, petroleum refining, steel, coal, and banks. Significant reforms continued in other areas as well, including pensions, health, decentralization of government, and education. Still to be addressed are the agricultural sector, a major part of the economy (employing more than 25 percent of the labor force), and lagging development in rural areas.



World War II essentially transformed Poland into a state dominated by a single religion. According to a 1991 government survey, Roman Catholicism was professed by 96 percent of the population. The practice of Judaism declined more dramatically than any other religion after the war, but the numbers of adherents of Greek Orthodox, Protestant, and other groups also fell significantly. Although the claim of religious affiliation signified different levels of participation for different segments of society (80.6 percent of professed Catholics described themselves as attending mass regularly), the history of Roman Catholicism in Poland formed a uniquely solid link between nationality and religious belief. As a result of that identity, Poland was the only country where the advent of communism had very little effect on the individual citizen's practice of organized religion. During the communist era, the Catholic Church enjoyed varying levels of autonomy, but the church remained the primary source of moral values, as well as an important political force. Of the 4 percent of Poles who were not Roman Catholic, half belonged to one of forty-two other denominations in 1991, and the rest professed no religion. The largest of the nonCatholic faiths was the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Although Poland returned to its tradition of religious tolerance after the communist era, jurisdictional issues complicated relations between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.



The legal system in Poland is based on statutes enacted by the Parliament. Poland's contemporary penal legislation is comprised of three basic sets of laws: the Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Code for the Execution of Penalties. Each Code was enacted on April 19, 1969 and entered into force on January 1, 1970. The Penal Legislation of 1969 is still in force despite the existence of drafts of new codes.

The Polish Penal Code does not define all criminal offenses. Numerous other statutes complete the penal law legislation. The most frequently applied statutes are derived from a Fiscal Criminal Code adopted in 1971, the Law of 1982 on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism, and the Law of 1985 on the Prevention of Drug Abuse. Some violations of these statutes (for instance, tax evasion, illegal trade of alcohol, trafficking of drugs) constitute crimes. Other violations are considered transgressions, most of which are minor infractions of administrative regulations specified in a Code of Transgressions, adopted in 1971.

Following the breakdown of the communist system, since mid-1989 Poland has been in a transition period from a centrally planned economy to a market-oriented and democratic system. Political changes and law reforms have been initiated with the amendment of the Polish Constitution developed by Parliament in December 1989. Article 1 of the Constitution established that the Republic of Poland was a "democratic state based on the rule of law."

All criminal offenses are classified into felonies, misdemeanors, and transgressions. Felonies include violent crimes, such as homicide, aggravated forcible rape, and robbery. Since a felony is an intentional act, the intent (dolus) must be proven in order to be found guilty of a felony. Most felony crimes are contained in chapter 19 of the Penal Code, which protects the fundamental political and economic interests of the State.

Misdemeanor offenses include theft, fraud, embezzlement, burglary, assault, unintentional homicide, bigamy, incest, and breach of a state secret. Transgressions constitute a separate category of punishable acts. They include violations of administrative regulations and minor criminal violations, such as petty theft.

Transgressions are often handled by quasi-judicial boards affiliated with branches of local self-government. However, transgressions may also be handled by the police. Police will often issue a "ticket" for a transgression which requires the offender to pay a fixed penalty.

The minimum age of criminal responsibility is 17. A person under 17 years old is considered a juvenile, subject to educational and corrective measures. The age limit can be lowered to 16 for certain serious offenses. Offenders between the ages of 17 and 18 years old can still be treated as juveniles for certain misdemeanor offenses. Juvenile offenders, and juveniles simply in need of care and protection, are dealt with by the regional family courts according to a special procedure adopted in 1982.

Drug abuse in Poland is largely reflected by the widespread use of home-produced opiates, prepared by the users themselves. The opiates are derived mainly from poppy straws that are obtained from poppies which are grown legitimately in Poland for their seeds. In 1985, the Law on Prevention of Drug Abuse went into force. This Act has enhanced the penalties for the illegal production of drugs and for drug trafficking. Illegal trade in narcotics or psychotropic substances is punishable with a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine. More severe penalties, such as a maximum of 15 years deprivation of liberty, are imposed for the illicit importation, exportation and transportation of drugs. However, the Law of 1985 does not envisage criminal sanctions for the use and possession of drugs, but emphasizes a prophylactic, socio-medical orientation to address the situation.



In 1989 and 1990, the crime rate in Poland rose substantially. The increase was attributed to several factors: social stresses from the uncertainties of the transition period; the institutional inadequacy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to deal with social unrest without wielding unlimited authority; and widespread skepticism that prevented public cooperation with police investigations. Public confidence had been destroyed by numerous incidents of arbitrary and unpunished police violence against civilians. In Warsaw, where robberies increased by 50 percent between 1988 and 1989, police solved only 16 percent of reported crimes in 1990. Police budgets were slashed, and recruitment became very difficult because police work now carried low prestige and offered few benefits. For personnel remaining from the communist era, the drop in institutional support was especially demoralizing.

By 1990 these conditions led to citizen complaints about being defenseless against crime and to complaints by the police that they could not do their work properly because of poor cooperation from citizens and insufficient budgetary support. Between 1990 and 1991, the police budget was cut by 13 percent and distance limitations were put on the use of patrol cars. Already in early 1990, however, legislation had been drafted to put the police under a separate chief appointed by and directly responsible to the prime minister. Such a shift meant that the Ministry of Internal Affairs could not issue direct orders on the conduct of police business. Local jurisdictions also could establish their own police forces as counterweights to the national police system; political qualifications could not be considered in hiring at any level. The new law also placed extensive limitations on police powers that interfered with citizen rights.

In 1991 the Citizens' Militia changed its name to simply Police (Policja). Personnel were retrained, and a strong public relations campaign was established to gain public trust. Uniforms and operational methods were changed, and by 1992 police had begun to flush pockets of crime from the inner cities. In 1992 the aura of fear had dissipated, and a large part of the public came to believe the police were performing as well as possible under strict budget limitations. A major newspaper poll in early 1992 showed the police second to the military (and above the Roman Catholic Church) in respect afforded Polish institutions.

By 1991 large increases had occurred in white-collar crime and economic scandals connected with privatization, liberalization of foreign trade, and decentralization of economic policy making. The unsealing of Poland's borders also made the country vulnerable to foreign organized crime. Accordingly, the Ministry of Internal Affairs set up a special police unit to combat corruption and economic fraud. In 1991, with a total detail of 600, the special unit set up special departments at existing police stations in seventeen districts.

New international conditions fostered new types of crime in the early 1990s. By 1992 the large number of refugees entering Poland, many without legal status and without employment, had become a serious source of crime. And explosives and arms left behind by the Soviet armed forces combined with social unrest to contribute to a significant increase in terrorist bombings. In addition to actual bombings, police frequently had to cope with false reports. As many as 90 percent of false alarms involved Poles between eleven and sixteen years old.

By 1992 narcotics had also became a problem. Bands of Polish amphetamine producers and distributors had developed a complex underground organization that produced very pure amphetamine narcotics, laundered money, and smuggled large amounts of their products in Western Europe. The "Polish pipeline" of agents abroad moved hashish, heroin, and cocaine into Western markets with increasing frequency. In the early 1990s, the entry of international traffickers into the indigenous Polish system threatened to raise the sophistication of local operations and make Poland a central distribution point for the world narcotics industry. Asian, Latin American, and African traffickers found Polish operatives useful because customs agents had not yet learned to identify East Europeans as potential smugglers. In 1991 some 20 percent of amphetamines captured in Western Europe originated in Poland.

Prevention of drug-related crime was hampered by policies remaining from the communist era and by budget limitations. Drug laws remained very lax in 1992; because drug trading was regarded as a minor offense, no Pole was convicted for amphetamine activities between 1985 and 1992. The nation's police force included only thirty full-time drug enforcement officers in 1992, with an annual operating budget of between US$100,000 and US$200,000.

The crime rate in Poland is medium compared to more industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Poland. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Poland will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2000 was 3.4 per 100,000 population for Poland, 1.10 for Japan, and 5.51 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2000 was 6.21 for Poland, compared with 1.78 for Japan and 32.05 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2000 was 138.49 for Poland, 4.08 for Japan, and 144.92 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 2000 was 84.84 for Poland, 23.78 for Japan, and 323.62 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 2000 was 943.73 for Poland, 233.60 for Japan, and 728.42 for USA. The rate of larceny for 2000 was 668.71 for Poland, 1401.26 for Japan, and 2475.27 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 2000 was 176.08 for Poland, compared with 44.28 for Japan and 414.17 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 2021.46 for Poland, compared with 1709.88 for Japan and 4123.97 for USA.



Between 1995 and 2000, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder increased from 3.05 to 3.4 per 100,000 population, an increase of 11.5%. The rate for rape increased from 5.87 to 6.21, an increase of 5.8%. The rate of robbery increased from 69.60 to 138.49, an increase of 99%. The rate for aggravated assault increased from 76.45 to 84.84, an increase of 11%. The rate for burglary increased from 790.15 to 943.73, an increase of 19.4%. The rate of larceny increased from 529.62 to 668.71, an increase of 26.3%. The rate of motor vehicle theft increased from 131.35 to 176.08, an increase of 34.1%. The rate of total index offenses increased from 1606.09 to 2021.46, an increase of 25.9%.



Poland has a mixture of Continental (Napoleonic) civil law and holdover Communist legal theory. Changes are being gradually introduced as part of broader democratization process.. In Poland, there is limited judicial review of legislative acts although under the new constitution. The Constitutional Tribunal ruling will become final as of October 1999. Court decisions can be appealed to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg.




After 1989 the state's role in maintaining law and order changed, as did the definition of internal threats to national security. In accordance with Poland's commitment to representative democratic governance, the complex and sinister system of internal security organizations that had been established to eliminate opposition to communist regimes gave way to an apolitical and professional police force. Like most other reforms of the transition period, practical changes came slowly because of resistance from incumbent officials.

Until 1990 the internal security forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which included the Security Service (Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa--SB), the regular police (Milicja Obywatelska-- MO), the riot police, and a large Citizens' Militia Voluntary Reserve (Ochotnicza Rezerwa Milicji Obywatelskiej--ORMO), were charged with preserving public order and protecting the regime and the PZPR. These forces were especially active during the martial law period of the early 1980s because the Jaruzelski government sought to separate regular military forces from unpopular civilian control actions. All departments of the internal security forces came under intense public pressure for abolition or reform when the first noncommunist government was formed in 1989.

The first stage of reform in the Ministry of Internal Affairs was Kiszczak's reorganization program of 1989, which was designed to satisfy public demands for government rather than party control of the ministry. The reorganization sought to avoid the kind of frontal assault, advocated by radical reformers, that would bring confrontation with entrenched bureaucrats. Kiszczak was suspected of seeking to change his ministry's image without substantially reducing its power. Although the scope of the initial reform was quite broad and nominally separated the Ministry of Internal Affairs from PZPR control, the ministry also remained beyond the control of other branches of government. Kiszczak, who remained minister, refused to replace any of his deputies with Solidarity representatives. After the initial reform, internal affairs departments continued covert surveillance activity, although now with the nominal requirement of court approval.

Kiszczak's reforms primarily affected the security service. The SB had been a plainclothes force of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, charged with seeking out subversive elements at home and abroad and investigating sabotage. Established in 1944 and controlled by the Soviet Union through the early 1950s, the SB faded during the Gomulka reform period, then revived as a totally secret force that stood over Polish society throughout the rest of the communist era.

The 1990 reform cut about 70 percent of SB personnel and most of the departments that had been most active in protecting the communist regimes from internal dangers. Department Three, which had monitored the activities of social, cultural, and political organizations and the press, was abolished. So was Department Four, which had monitored religious organizations and was assumed to be responsible for the murder of dissident leader Father Jerzy Popieluszko in 1984. Three new, nominally apolitical departments were established in place of those abolished, and the name was changed from SB to the Office of State Protection (Urzad Ochrony Panstwa--UOP). In mid-1990 an independent screening commission was established for former employees of abolished departments seeking jobs in remaining agencies of the ministry. All applicants over fifty-five years of age were rejected in an attempt to remove as many as possible of the communist-era SB administrators.

In 1992 the reputation of new UOP was clouded by the discovery that many records from the communist era had been destroyed before the reform took place. An air of scandal surrounded the ministry as many top government figures, including Walesa, were implicated as collaborators in SB activities. Some Poles demanded that all SB records be opened to the public. However, the remaining files could not be relied upon to identify accurately the remaining government officials guilty of SB collaboration. In 1992 accusation of SB collaboration was a frequently used weapon in Poland's fractious political system.

The ZOMO motorized riot troops, which played the most visible role in quelling demonstrations in 1980 and 1981, were reduced in size somewhat by the early 1990s and renamed Preventive Units of the Citizens' Militia (Oddzialy Prewencji Milicji Obywatelskiej-- OPMO). OPMO forces are restricted to roles such as crowd control at sporting events, ensuring safety in natural disasters, and assisting the regular police. In theory, higher government authority would be required for large OPMO contingents to be used.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, ORMO forces, which at one time numbered as many as 600,000 civilian volunteers, were used to augment regular police personnel at key trouble spots. In the early 1980s, ORMO harassed Solidarity members and prevented independent groups from organizing. Largely staffed by industrial workers who gained substantial privileges by monitoring their peers in the workplace, ORMO was the object of extreme resentment throughout the 1980s. Kiszczak attempted to promote ORMO as a valuable auxiliary police force, but the organization was abolished by the Sejm in 1990.

The Kiszczak reforms failed to reassure the public that the security agencies now were acting in the public interest. However, the collapse of the PZPR in 1990 made possible the ouster of Kiszczak and faster reduction of the autonomy of the security agencies. Kiszczak's successor, a journalist, put the Ministry of Internal Affairs under a civilian for the first time since martial law was declared.

Under the communist regimes, the Border Guard Troops (Wojska Ochrony Pogranicza--WOP) was an agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which was responsible for tight border security as well as a variety of less specific missions. In 1991 the military-style WOP was disbanded and replaced by the Border Guard (Straznik Graniczny--SG), whose commander was appointed by and reported directly to the prime minister. The force was reduced from 20,000 to 13,500 troops, with the top-heavy officer corps absorbing the largest cuts.

The newly configured force retrained the large numbers of lower- and mid-level cadre that remained in service and switched its operational strategy from tight border patrols to border reconnaissance. SG activity is now aimed at preventing illegal border crossings, smuggling, and the entry of environmentally harmful materials into Poland from adjoining countries. Between 1990 and 1991, border crossings into Poland increased from 2 million to 10 million. In 1991 and 1992, the major refugee movements from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe put great stress on Poland's reduced border force, which was responsible for customs and visa inspections at border crossings. A 1991 study showed alarming signs that Poland's borders were very porous. For example, 70 percent of goods declared as transiting Poland remained within the country once they entered (thus having avoided taxes and duties), and only 30 percent of automobiles going into the Soviet Union had proper transport documents.

Today, internal security forces consist of local police, a national office of investigation, and city guards, who are uniformed, unarmed officers. The armed forces are subject to effective civilian control by the Government. Since 1996 the civilian Minister of Defense has had clear command and control authority over the military chief of the general staff as well as oversight of military intelligence. Civilian control was reinforced further by a restructuring of the Ministry of Defense and general staff undertaken as part of the country's entry into NATO in April 2000. Security forces committed a few abuses.

The Constitution prohibits such actions; however, the Government does not always respect these prohibitions in practice. The Constitution provides for the general right to privacy; however, there is no legislation that provides for this right. In past years, politicians in the various opposition parties have reported that the secret service illegally collected information on them; however, these reports have not been confirmed, nor has there been an investigation into them.

The law forbids arbitrary forced entry into homes, and search warrants issued by a prosecutor are required in order to enter private residences. In emergency cases, when a prosecutor is not immediately available, police may enter a residence with the approval of the local police commander. In the most urgent cases, in which there is no time to consult with the police commander, police may enter a private residence after showing their official identification. There were no reports that police abused search warrant procedures.

A 1998 law prohibits the collection of information about a person's ethnic origin, religious convictions, health condition, political views, or membership in religious, political, or trade union organizations. The law allows for certain exceptions, specifically, the gathering of information without a person's permission by courts, hospitals, or organizations if the information pertains to their members. All exceptions are subject to some restrictions. Despite being illegal, a few restrictive practices such as a requirement to fill out "creed" or "nationality" items in some questionnaires continued. For example, some nongovernmental entities persisted in asking for such information; violators are prosecuted; if convicted they are subject to imprisonment for up to 3 years. The Ministry of Justice reports that from March 1998 to September 2000, the office of the prosecutor received 324 notifications of crimes pursuant to Articles 49 to 54 of the 1998 Law on Personal Data Protection. Of those, 304 have been closed; the office declined to prosecute 90 cases; 39 cases were referred to the court; and 170 cases were discontinued by the court. In nine cases, the prosecutor recommended conditional discontinuance. There is no record of a conviction obtained in any case.

The Government maintains, without judicial review or oversight, a large number of wiretaps. In June in response to the growing threat of organized crime and money laundering, the Government established the Financial Investigative Unit (FIU), a division of the Ministry of Finance. Inspectors collect information and examine suspicious transactions in excess of $8,600 (36,201 PLN). Since the unit was established in June 2000, inspectors have initiated proceedings in approximately 300 cases and notified prosecutors in 10 more cases. In 37 cases, the value of suspicious transactions exceeded $160 million. Parliament permitted the police and intelligence services to monitor private correspondence and to use wiretaps and electronic monitoring devices in cases involving serious crimes, narcotics, money laundering, or illegal firearm sales. Under the Criminal Code, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Interior, both political appointees, must authorize these investigative methods. In emergency cases, the police may initiate an investigation that utilizes wiretaps or the opening of private correspondence at the same time that they seek permission from the ministers. Estimates on the number of wiretapping devices installed annually at the request of the police vary widely. There are unconfirmed reports that the total number of wiretaps rose from the years 1999 to 2000. After interventions by the Human Rights Ombudsman, the Prosecutor General curtailed the number of warrants for wiretapping.

Parliamentarians and human rights groups expressed concern about the lack of control over this type of surveillance. There is no independent judicial review of surveillance activities, nor is there any control over how the information derived from investigations is used. A growing number of agencies have access to wiretap information, and the Police Code allows electronic surveillance to be used for the prevention of crime as well as for investigative purposes. As is the case under the Criminal Code, police must obtain permission from the Ministers of Justice and Interior before initiating wiretap procedures.

The law on "lustration" or vetting, designed to expose government officials who collaborated with the Communist-era secret police, bans from office for 10 years those persons caught lying about their past. The law requires officials to provide sworn affidavits concerning their possible cooperation with the secret police; the public interest spokesman (lustration prosecutor) then verifies the affidavits and brings suspected cases of misrepresentation before the lustration court, a special three-judge panel whose decisions may be appealed. In 2000 several high-profile cases came before the court, including that of a Deputy Defense Minister who was judged to have lied in his affidavit; in November the Supreme Court returned the case to the appellate court, and the appeal was pending at year's end 2001. Many of these cases are closed to the public because they involve classified documents. Critics continue to voice concern that the procedure of vetting politicians may be unfair, in view of the likelihood that secret police records were subject to loss or tampering. In June 2000, Parliament agreed on a chairman for the Institute of National Remembrance, a body mandated by the lustration law to organize all Communist-era secret police files and eventually give citizens access to their files.



The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the Government generally observes these prohibitions. Courts rather than prosecutors issue arrest warrants. The law allows a 48-hour detention period before authorities are required to bring a defendant before a court and an additional 24 hours for the court to decide whether to issue a pretrial detention order. During this period, access to a lawyer normally is limited. Once a prosecutor presents the legal basis for a formal investigation, the law provides for access to counsel. Bail is available, and most detainees are released on bail pending trial.

Detainees may be held in pretrial detention for up to 3 months and may challenge the legality of an arrest through appeal to the district court. A court may extend this pretrial confinement period every 3 months for up to 18 months until the trial date. The total time of temporary arrest until the first sentence rendered by the court of lower instance may not be more than 2 years. However, under certain circumstances, the 2-year period may be extended further by the Supreme Court.

The Constitution prohibits forced exile, and the Government does not employ it.


The constitution of 1952 reflected the communists' disdain for the concept of judicial independence. As in the Soviet system, the Polish judiciary was viewed as an integral part of the coercive state apparatus. The courts were not allowed to adjudicate the constitutionality of statutes. Instead, the function of constitutional review was within the purview of the legislative branch until 1976, when it passed to the Council of State. A key provision of the Round Table Agreement was the reemergence of an independent judiciary, a concept rooted in the Ustawa Rzadowa, the constitution of 1791. By 1992 most of the communist political appointees had left the Supreme Court, and at all levels new judges had been recruited from among qualified academic and courtroom barristers. On the other hand, in 1992 Poland's body of laws still contained a motley assortment of Soviet-style statutes full of vague language aimed at protecting the communist monopoly of power rather than the rule of law itself. A complete overhaul of the legal system was a universally recognized need.

The constitution of 1952 reflected the communists' disdain for the concept of judicial independence. As in the Soviet system, the Polish judiciary was viewed as an integral part of the coercive state apparatus. The courts were not allowed to adjudicate the constitutionality of statutes. Instead, the function of constitutional review was within the purview of the legislative branch until 1976, when it passed to the Council of State. A key provision of the Round Table Agreement was the reemergence of an independent judiciary, a concept rooted in the Ustawa Rzadowa, the constitution of 1791. By 1992 most of the communist political appointees had left the Supreme Court, and at all levels new judges had been recruited from among qualified academic and courtroom barristers. On the other hand, in 1992 Poland's body of laws still contained a motley assortment of Soviet-style statutes full of vague language aimed at protecting the communist monopoly of power rather than the rule of law itself. A complete overhaul of the legal system was a universally recognized need.

Reform of the appointment mechanism for justices was a necessity to ensure an independent judiciary. In the communist era, the Council of State appointed Supreme Court justices to five-year terms, making selections on purely political grounds. Because the Supreme Court had jurisdiction over all other courts in the land, the political reliability of its members was an important consideration in appointment decisions. Judicial reform after the Round Table Agreement provided that the president appoint Supreme Court justices from a list prepared by an independent National Judicial Council, and that justices be appointed for life terms. The presiding officer of the Supreme Court, called the first chairman, is appointed from among the Supreme Court justices by the National Assembly upon the recommendation of the president. Dismissal from the chairmanship follows the same procedure.

The Supreme Court reviews the decisions of all lower courts; hears appeals of decisions made by the district courts, along with appeals brought by the minister of justice (who simultaneously serves as the prosecutor general) and the first chairman of the Supreme Court; and adopts legal interpretations and clarifications. The court is organized into four chambers: criminal, civil, labor and social insurance, and military. Because of its heavy case load, the Supreme Court is a large body, employing 117 judges and a staff of 140 persons in late 1990.

In 1990 the system of lower courts included forty-four district and 282 local courts. These numbers were scheduled to be increased to forty-nine and 300, respectively, in 1991. Thereafter the local courts were to concentrate on minor, routine offenses, and the district courts were to take on more serious cases and consider appeals of local court verdicts. Misdemeanors generally are handled by panels of "social adjudicators," who are elected by local government councils. In 1991 these panels heard about 600,000 cases, of which about 80 percent were traffic violations. To relieve the heavy appeals case load of the Supreme Court, ten regional appeals courts were set up in late 1990 to review verdicts of the district courts.

The Supreme Administrative Court was established in 1980 to review and standardize administrative regulations enforced by government agencies and to hear citizens' complaints concerning the legality of administrative decisions. In 1991 the court heard some 15,600 cases, mostly dealing with taxes, social welfare issues, and local government decisions. As of late 1990, the court employed 105 judges and 163 staff members.

The Constitutional Tribunal was established by the Jaruzelski regime in early 1982 to adjudicate the constitutionality of laws and regulations. The Sejm appoints the tribunal's members to four-year terms. Initially, the body did not have authority to review laws and statutes enacted before 1982. Findings of unconstitutionality could be overruled by the Sejm with a twothirds majority vote. Selected by the Sejm for their superior legal expertise, the members of the Constitutional Tribunal are independent and bound only by the constitution. In 1992 the tribunal made controversial findings that government plans to control wages and pensions retroactively violated rights constitutionally guaranteed to citizens.

The Jaruzelski regime created the State Tribunal in 1982, by the same law that formed the Constitutional Tribunal, in response to instances of high official corruption in 1980. The State Tribunal passes judgment on the guilt or innocence of the highest office holders in the land accused of violating the constitution and laws. The body's twenty-seven members are appointed by the Sejm from outside its membership for a term coinciding with that of the Sejm. Judges in the State Tribunal are independent and bound only by the law. The chairperson of the State Tribunal is the president of the Supreme Court. As of mid-1992, the State Tribunal had never heard a case.

The communist-era Office of the Chief Prosecutor was abolished following the Round Table Agreement. Thereafter, the minister of justice has served as the prosecutor general. The mission of the prosecutor general is to safeguard law and order and ensure prosecution of crimes. Since 1990 the prosecutors on the district and local levels have been given autonomy from the police and are subordinated to the minister of justice, who has assumed the role of the defunct prosecutor general. In 1992 many prosecutors remained from the rubber-stamp judicial system of the communist era, however. Because they had no understanding of democratic judicial practice, these officials seriously inhibited the new legal system in dealing with the wave of crime that accompanied the transition to a market economy.

The concept of a people's ombudsman to safeguard individual civil rights and liberties was first proposed by the Patriotic Movement for National Rebirth (Patriotyczny Ruch Odrodzenia Narodowego--PRON) in 1983. Four years later, the Sejm enacted legislation establishing the Office of the Commissioner for Citizens' Rights. Appointed to a four-year term by the Sejm with Senate approval, the commissioner is independent of other state agencies and answers only to the Sejm. The commissioner's mandate is to investigate on behalf of individual citizens or organizations possible infractions of Polish law or basic principles of justice by public officials, institutions, or organizations. Although the commissioner may review the administration of the courts, he or she may intercede only in matters such as scheduling of cases. In military or internal security matters, the commissioner does not investigate evidence but channels cases to the appropriate jurisdiction. As a public ombudsman, the commissioner confronts the accused party and conveys official displeasure at a given action or policy. The commissioner also may request the initiation of civil, criminal, or administrative proceedings and appeal to the Constitutional Tribunal to review a law's constitutionality or consistency with a higher statute.

The public greeted the creation of the Office of the Commissioner for Citizens' Rights with enthusiasm. Lacking an established screening mechanism, the new office received more than 55,000 complaints in 1988 alone. The commissioner also conducts systematic inspections of prisons in response to inmates' complaints. Following the inspections, the commissioner issued a comprehensive report, which has resulted in a more humane, less congested prison system. In 1990 a national opinion poll revealed that at that point the ombudsman enjoyed the highest popularity of any Polish politician.

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respects this provision in practice; however, the judiciary remains inefficient and lacks resources and public confidence.

There is a four-tiered court and prosecutorial structure. The courts consist of regional, provincial, and appellate divisions, as well as a Supreme Court. These tiers are subdivided further into five parts: Military, civil, criminal, labor, and family. Regional courts are courts of first instance, while appellate courts are charged solely with appeals. Provincial courts have a dual responsibility, handling appeals from regional courts while enjoying original jurisdiction for the most serious types of offenses. Appellate courts handle appeals tried at the provincial level, and the Supreme Court only handles appeals about questions of law. The prosecutorial system mirrors the court structure with national, provincial, appellate, and regional offices. Criminal cases are tried in regional and provincial courts by a panel consisting of a professional judge and two lay assessors. The seriousness of the offense determines which is the court of first instance.

Judges are nominated by the national judicial council and appointed by the President. They are appointed for life and can be reassigned but not dismissed, except by a court decision. The Constitutional Tribunal rules on the constitutionality of legislation. Constitutional Tribunal decisions are final and binding.

The Government continued to restructure the court system in order to streamline and accelerate the legal process; however, the court system remained cumbersome, poorly administered, overstaffed, and underfunded. There are numerous inefficiencies, most notably the fact that many districts have more criminal judges than prosecutors. These factors contribute to a lack of public confidence. Many effective judges and prosecutors have left public service for the more lucrative private sector. Court decisions frequently are not implemented. Bailiffs normally ensure the execution of civil verdicts such as damage payments and evictions; however, according to some observers, they are underpaid, subject to intimidation and bribery, and have a mixed record of implementing court decisions. Civil and administrative rulings against public institutions such as hospitals often cannot be enforced due to a lack of funds. Simple civil cases can take as long as 2 to 3-years before resolution, and the pretrial waiting time in criminal cases can be several months. The backlog and the costs of legal action appear to deter many citizens from using the justice system at all, particularly in civil matters such as divorce. The long wait for routine court decisions in commercial matters is an incentive for bribery and corruption.

The law requires that disciplinary procedures be taken against those judges accused of violating judicial independence by issuing unjust verdicts between 1944 and 1989 at the request of the Communist authorities. Cases must be initiated before December 31, 2002. Such cases may be initiated by the Minister of Justice, the presidents of the appellate or regional courts, the National Judiciary Council, or individuals who felt wronged by court verdicts. According to the National Judiciary Council, 19 cases were filed against judges during the year 2001.

All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. At the end of a trial, the court renders its decision orally and then has 7 days to prepare a written decision. A defendant has the right to appeal within 14 days of the written decision. Appeals may be made on the basis of new evidence or procedural irregularities.

Once formal charges are filed, the defendant is allowed to study the charges and consult with an attorney, who is provided at public expense if necessary. Once the defendant is prepared, a trial date is set. Defendants are required to be present during the trial and may present evidence and confront witnesses in their own defense. However, prosecutors have the authority to grant witnesses anonymity at trial if they express fear of retribution from the defendant. This law, designed to help combat organized crime, impairs defendants' right to confront their accusers. Trials are usually public; however, the courts reserve the right to close a trial to the public in some circumstances, such as divorce cases, trials in which state secrets may be disclosed, or cases whose content might offend "public morality". The courts rarely invoke this prerogative. A two-level appeal process is available in most civil and criminal matters.

In September 2000, the law was amended to allow for a defendant and a representative, in addition to the prosecutor, to be present for a provincial appellate court's examination of a verdict.

There were no reports of political prisoners.



Under both communist and postcommunist governments, the Polish penal system operated under national authority. Beginning in 1956, the system was under jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice through its Main Bureau of Penal Institutions. Institutions were categorized by the criminal records of the inmates and the severity of their crimes. Each institution had a prison commission that classified inmates and adjusted their treatment according to behavior.

Adopted in 1969, the Penal Code of the Polish People's Republic was one of the most punitive in Europe in actual practice--although the code's rhetoric was quite liberal. Nominally, members of the judiciary had free access to prisons to investigate prisoner grievances, examine documents, and assess prison conditions. In actuality, the Polish judiciary was completely controlled by the PZPR and therefore had no capacity for remedial action. Likewise, codified prisoner privileges such as medical treatment and access to libraries seldom existed in practice. In 1981 Western experts estimated that the penal system managed between 130,000 and 200,000 prisoners--a rate of imprisonment per 100,000 citizens of 350 to 580, compared with 212 in the United States and twenty-five in the Netherlands.

At its inception in 1980, Solidarity began distributing previously unseen information about Polish prison conditions. Patronat, an organization lobbying for liberalized prison policies, emerged in 1981 but was repressed in 1982. The political tensions of the early 1980s triggered a wave of prison strikes affecting two of every three penal institutions in Poland between 1980 and 1982. Press reports on the riots revealed chronic deficiencies in the system. Food standards did not meet human biological needs. Prisoners were routinely beaten, tortured, and denied medical treatment. Large prison populations caused overcrowding, and sanitation and recreational facilities were inadequate. Hard labor--the standard method of inmate rehabilitation--featured dangerous working conditions, and refusal to work led to solitary confinement and other harsh penalties. An uncodified set of prison regulations introduced in 1974 had given prison guards arbitrary power to inflict a wide range of punishments. Those punishments were a key motivation of inmate strikes in the early 1980s. Prisoners could complain only as individuals, never as a group, and until the riots the workings of the prison system were completely hidden from the Polish public.

In the communist era, the Polish penal system basically adapted the penal practices of the Soviet Union to suit local conditions. In both systems, cheap and disciplined prison labor played an important role in supporting the economy. Forced, uncompensated labor on private projects of prison officials was a source of particular resentment among inmates.

The civil upheavals of 1980 and 1981 expanded the political role of the penal system. Among the thousands of arrests made during that time, typical crimes were possession of underground leaflets, display of Solidarity symbols, organization of meetings and marches, and refusal to work in militarized enterprises. Solidarity activists generally were imprisoned in groups. The PZPR applied great pressure to civil and military judges trying such cases; under martial law, a military commissar monitored every court as well. Loyalty oaths were required of judges, and many who were deemed unreliable lost their positions.

When martial law ended in mid-1993, thousands of political prisoners who had been held without charges were conscripted into the army and sent to hard labor camps, where they were subject to military rather than civil law. In this period, military courts retained jurisdiction over all cases involving "public safety, order, or national security." The tougher sentences of the martial law period remained in force and the right to appeal remained void.

Beginning in 1989, former opposition groups (who during the 1980s had become quite familiar with the Polish prison system) achieved a government ban on violence in prisons and restoration of prisoner civil rights. In 1989 Parliament passed an amnesty law that released political prisoners but continued to confine recidivists. In late 1989, the disappointed hard-core prison population staged some 500 riots. In 1990 Pawel Moczydlowski, director of the Central Prison Administration, succeeded in ending the violence and corruption typical of the communist administration. About one-third of prison guards and threequarters of prison governors were dismissed between 1990 and 1992. By mid-1992, nearly 50 percent of prison personnel had been in service less than three years.

Wherever possible, the physical structure of prisons was opened to give inmates greater contact; harassment and arbitrary punishment were eliminated, and visitation and appeal rights were extended. Patronat and Alcoholics Anonymous became active among prisoners, and clergymen had unlimited access. Increased public access eased tensions between inmates and guards. In 1992, however, a Helsinki Watch report noted poor material and sanitation conditions and overcrowding in many Polish prisons. Only fifteen prisons had their own hospitals, many of them with primitive facilities. The opportunity to work, an arduous but often welcome respite from prison tedium, was reduced significantly in the postcommunist economic decline; in mid-1992 only about 25 percent of prisoners held jobs, and only about 4 percent of prisoners worked for civilian companies.

In mid-1992 the Central Prison Administration had debts of US$8.3 million. The decline of prison enterprises meant that prisons no longer contributed to the budget of the Ministry of Justice. Prison budgets were consumed by the cost of housing prisoners (3 million zloty monthly per prisoner). Most Polish prisons were at least 100 years old, and several facilities had been condemned by 1992. In 1992 the prison population was 61,329. Although significantly lower than in the communist era, that figure climbed by 1,000 to 1,500 per month between 1989 (when the post-amnesty population was 40,000) and 1992 (when experts declared that the system had reached its capacity). Sentences still averaged two years, compared with six to eight months in the West. In most cases, courts still tended to impose maximum sentences even for trivial crimes. Lesser punishments, such as fines and restricted freedom, were rarely imposed as alternatives to imprisonment.

In the early 1990s, most aspects of internal security in Poland followed the same irregular pattern of reform as that which occurred in national security policy in the same years. By 1992 the mission of state security agencies had changed dramatically toward protection of all citizens rather than protection of the state, but the public retained from the communist era considerable suspicion of such agencies. The open society of the early 1990s fostered new types of crime, which were met with uncertain reform measures in police and border protection and in prison policy. Obtaining public support for internal security institutions was a difficult part of governance in the early postcommunist era, as all of Polish society adjusted to quite new internal and external conditions.

In 2001, prison conditions remained generally poor. According to reports by nongovernmental organizations (NGO's), overcrowding, damp cells, and a lack of medical treatment are the chief problems. The prison system is in urgent need of additional funding; since 1999 the National Penitentiary Authority's budget declined by approximately 34 percent. Of 156 detention facilities, 98 require considerable renovation, of which 8 are in very poor condition and need to be completely rebuilt. The Ombudsman for Human Rights continued to complain about the safety of prisoners, noting that inmates are often the victims of violent attacks by other prisoners. Civil litigation against the prison administration in the 1996 case of an 18-year-old mentally retarded boy who was beaten and sodomized by fellow inmates was considered by the Bydgoszcz district court in February 2000; the case remained pending at year's end 2001. Reportedly the ratio of prisoners to rehabilitation officers is very poor. Women are held in 21 detention facilities, but only 5 are strictly for women; in the remaining 16 detention facilities, men and women are held separately. Juveniles under the age of 24 are held separately from adults, and pretrial detainees are held separately from convicted prisoners.

The Government permits visits by independent human rights organizations. During the year 2001, the Human Rights Ombudsmen monitored 16 detention facilities, and the Helsinki Foundation visited 2 facilities; all of the visits were unannounced prior to the visit.


Violence against women continued to be a problem. There are no comprehensive surveys that document the problem adequately. According to the Women's Rights Center, 23 percent of women have been victims of domestic violence. According to the NGO La Strada 18 percent of married women admitted to being victims of physical abuse by their husbands. Women's organizations assert that the number of women suffering from domestic abuse is probably much higher due to the fact that battered women usually refuse to admit abuse even to themselves. Violence against women remains hidden, particularly in small towns and villages. Government and police statistics do not differentiate between male and female victims of violence. Physical abuse is illegal and spousal rape is treated in the same manner as other types of rape. Police intervene in cases of domestic violence. In 1998 the police, in cooperation with the State Agency for Solving Alcoholic Problems, introduced the "blue card," a record-keeping system designed to better document incidents of spousal abuse. Sentences for abuse of family members range from 3 months to 5 years, or from 2 to 10 years if the victim attempts suicide as a result of the abuse. However, statistics show that a large majority of convictions (83 percent) result in suspended sentences. According to a spokesman for the police, there were 23,987 cases of family abuse reported in 2000, with 213 of those being of particularly severe abuse. According to NGO's, the courts often treat domestic violence as a minor crime, pronounce lenient verdicts, or dismiss cases.

In 2000 there were 2,399 rape cases reported, compared with 2,029 in 1999, and according to police statistics, the frequency of rape further increased during the year 2001. However, NGO's reported that women often are unwilling to report the crime and estimate that the actual number of rapes is 10 times higher than that reported.

According to the Women's Rights Center Report, there was significant progress in raising public awareness of the problem of violence against women. The topic received increasing coverage in the media during the year 2001, most notably through a highly visible media and billboard campaign. In addition an increasing number of NGO's are addressing the problem. A total of 15 centers have been established to assist victims, to provide preventive treatment as well as resocialization counseling to perpetrators, and to train personnel working with victims of domestic violence. In July 2000, the Government established an Office of Victims' Rights Spokesman at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration. The main task of the office is to ensure that victims of violence are treated with respect by law enforcement and the judicial system. The office provides legal and psychological assistance for victims and their families.

The law has no provision for restraining orders to protect battered women against further abuse. For example, in divorce cases, courts frequently grant a divorce but do not issue a property settlement, forcing women to return to their abusive husbands. This problem is exacerbated by a lack of alternative housing in the country. Women's advocacy groups also have complained about the small number of state-supported shelters for battered women.

Paying for sexual activity is illegal, as is pimping; however, selling sex is not illegal. However, due to a crackdown on prostitutes who work along major thoroughfares and at truck stops, the prostitution industry has moved to brothels, massage parlors, or agencies offering escort services. Since 1997 the total estimated numbers of prostitutes declined by 45 percent; however, police believe the apparent decline in prostitution may be the result of much greater numbers of women working in brothels, or so-called agencies, who are not captured by the statistics. Police estimated that there are 770 agencies in operation, with an estimated 4,300 women working in them as prostitutes.

Trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation was a problem.



Although it occurs, there is no societal pattern of child abuse. The law prohibits violence against children. A provision of the Criminal Code provides that those who physically or psychologically abuse a juvenile may receive a prison sentence of 3 months to 5 years. If the victim attempts suicide the sentence is increased, as it is if the perpetrator is found to have acted with extreme cruelty. However, abuse rarely is reported, and convictions for child abuse also are rare. In addition there are no procedures in schools to protect children from abuse by teachers; the teachers' work code provides legal immunity from prosecution for the use of corporal punishment in classrooms.

Trafficking in children was a problem.

The law prohibits child prostitution; however, child prostitution was a problem. The Penal Code states that anyone who, with the purpose of obtaining a material benefit, incites a minor to prostitution or facilitates such prostitution is subject to a sentence from 1 to 10 year's imprisonment.



The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, Poland is a country of origin, transit, and destination for trafficked persons, primarily women and girls and to a lesser extent boys. Since statistics on prostitution do not distinguish victims of trafficking from those willfully engaged in prostitution, escort services, pornography and other aspects of the sex trade, the scope of the trafficking problem is difficult to define. The international NGO La Strada estimated that approximately 60 percent of foreign women who worked as prostitutes in the country are victims of trafficking.

Poland is a source, transit, and destination country for the trafficking of women and girls. Polish women and children are trafficked to western European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland for sexual exploitation. A press report from August 2000 states that each year several hundred Polish boys also are victims of trafficking.

Women and girls are trafficked into Poland from countries such as Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Belarus, and Russia. Ukraine is the largest single source of foreign women trafficked in Poland. Women from Bulgaria tend to be from the Turkish and Roma minorities. Women and girls who are trafficked into Poland primarily from Eastern Europe are recruited from areas with low socioeconomic conditions, sometimes quite openly. Those women and girls from the lowest socioeconomic status are most vulnerable to trafficking and subjected to the worst conditions. For example, Roma and ethnically Turkish Bulgarians tend to be employed as prostitutes on highways. They may spend a few months in Poland before they are trafficked further west. In contrast women from other countries of Eastern Europe also are trafficked into agencies run as brothels. Educated Polish and Russian women are more likely than others to be employed voluntarily by escort services.

Victims are trafficked through such means as fake employment offers, arranged marriages, fraud, and coercive measures. Many believe that they are accepting employment as waitresses, maids, or nannies abroad. While they are en route to what they believe to be their destinations, their passports and identity papers are taken away from them. Stripped of their personal identity, the women and girls are kept under the control of the traffickers through fear and intimidation. They are required to serve a minimum number of clients each day in order to earn their keep. They are threatened with violence, and those who resist are raped or beaten. If they try to flee, their legs may be broken. There are also reports of victims being killed by their traffickers.

In the last few years, trafficking has become increasingly organized and has been associated with a rampant growth in document fraud. As many as 90 percent of the women and girls trafficked in the country have false travel documents, and the trafficking of a single woman usually involves a network of criminals. One criminal will recruit the woman; a second will provide false travel documents and traffic her across the border; and a third will supervise her work with clients, functioning as a pimp. In one example offered by police, one Bulgarian women was detained several different times by police, each time with a new identity and passport. La Strada and police also reported large scale auctions of women held in Warsaw and other cities. Prices paid for women and girls who are trafficked reportedly start at $1,500 (3,500 PLN). Victims usually are trafficked by nationals from the same source country; for example, Bulgarian women are trafficked by Bulgarians and Ukrainians by Ukrainians. Foreign traffickers systematically pay a percentage of their receipts to Polish traffickers operating out of the same region.

It is particularly difficult to estimate the extent to which children are victims of trafficking. Legal authorities deal with child traffickers more severely, in part because laws on statutory rape are easier to prosecute. As a result, the activity has been driven completely underground. Child prostitution is a crime, while prostitution of adults is neither banned nor regulated by law, making it more difficult for the police to pursue. The authorities do not always recognize trafficking in children since minors can be trafficked on false documents identifying them as adults. Of the 198 cases in 2000 initiated by prosecutors, 22 involved victims who were minors. In the first half of the year, prosecutors instituted proceedings in 4 cases involving minors. During the summer at a hotel outside of Warsaw, police raided an auction where women and children were being sold to a human trafficking ring for use in brothels and pornography production.

Several provisions in the Criminal Code specifically address the problem of trafficking. The law prohibits trafficking in human beings and pimping and imposes sentences of up to 10 years on those convicted. It also bans recruiting or luring persons into prostitution; penalties for this offense are also up to 10 years. The most severe sentences are reserved for individuals trafficking in children and those luring women into prostitution abroad. In 1998 statutes on trafficking were revised.

The scope of trafficking in the country is most likely much larger than the numbers reflected in prosecutions and arrests for specific violations of the criminal code. In 2000 the Government prosecuted 198 cases under Article 204, which prohibits luring persons into prostitution, and 13 cases under Article 253, which pertains to trafficking in persons and organizing adoptions for material benefit. In the first half of the year, the Government prosecuted 345 cases of luring persons into prostitution and 11 trafficking cases. As of August, the Government had prosecuted 345 cases for luring persons into prostitution and 11 trafficking cases. It is not clear whether this increase is due to a growth in the number of women trafficked or to greater activity by the authorities.

Since the border guards and police may regard trafficking victims as criminals who have violated passport laws, victims are afraid to turn to officials for help. Victims have no legal status, and there are no public resources available to assist them. Victims usually are deported as soon as possible in order to avoid any expenses connected with keeping them in detention.

Victims are not informed about their legal status or rights. Many are unaware and are not told that under Polish law prostitution is not a crime. When detained by the police, they may be deported to the border, where they are met by traffickers who quickly provide them with new travel documents and return them to the country. There is no provision to allow victims to remain in the country long enough to pursue legal action against their traffickers.

The Government provides small grants to NGO's for victim assistance programs. For example, in 2000, the NGO, La Strada received a grant from the Ministry of Internal Affairs Office of Victims' Rights of approximately $3,850 (15,000 PLN) in order to provide a mobile phone hot line for victims, food, and a social worker to assist victims, for 4 months. La Strada is the only NGO in the country dealing specifically with trafficking but cooperates with shelters such as Caritas and other Catholic organizations, as well as the Center for Women's Rights shelter. La Strada provides several types of victim assistance. It operates a telephone hot line which victims can call, and it distributes stickers advertising its services in Polish, Russian, and Bulgarian. Once victims have contacted La Strada, the NGO puts them in touch with appropriate welfare offices. For instance, La Strada tries to help victims obtain safe accommodation, as well as therapy and psychological support. It also helps in contacts with police, prosecutors, and the courts. At times La Strada is able to put victims in touch with lawyers who are willing to provide free services. In other cases, La Strada may assist the victim in seeking employment or help the victim enroll in computer classes. In cases of underage victims, La Strada tries to facilitate the victim's return to school and tries to arrange for boarding school for victims who are afraid or unable to return to their families. La Strada also provides victims with information about how to contact their consulates in order to get new travel documents.

La Strada also provides training on prevention and victim support to professionals such as police, boarder guards, prosecutors, judges, social workers, teachers, and journalists. Its "Guardian Angel" program, developed in conjunction with the Helsinki Foundation, is aimed at training social workers to help victims with legal issues, so they can be advocates for the victims before the courts, police, and prosecutors. Various types of training sessions have been conducted by La Strada in Katowice, Bialystok, other areas near the border, Szczecin, Kielce, Zielona Gora, Przemysl, and Wroclaw, as well as Warsaw and Lodz.




A major producer of high-quality, illicit amphetamines, Poland also serves as a transit point and significant market for international narcotics. Domestically produced, low-grade heroin (kompot), once the most widely used drug in Poland, is being largely replaced by imported heroin from Turkey, Bulgaria and Afghanistan. Ongoing reorganization in 1998 has brought more centralized control to the Narcotics Bureau of the Polish National Police (PNP). Although increased drug usage among Poles is partially to blame for the 315 percent leap in the number of narcotics-related crimes detected in Poland in the first half of 1998, the PNP believes that more effective police work accounts for a significant portion of the statistical increase. New legislation making possession a crime may also account for some of the increase.

Poland is a producer and transit country for illegal narcotics into Western Europe, as well as a demand market for imported drugs. A recent development is the appearance of "black cocaine" and designer drugs. Kompot usage has steadily declined, giving way to a demand for "cleaner" heroin from Turkey, Bulgaria and Afghanistan as addicts grow wary of the domestic product's numerous side effects. West European traffickers have organized indoor cannabis cultivation; local outdoor cultivation marked by poor-quality plants. Amphetamines and other synthetic narcotics are among the most commonly used drugs, though marijuana and hashish are the most popular drugs on the market, especially among young people. South American cocaine, a very expensive narcotic, has developed a limited market among the more well-off segments of Polish society.

Poland remains a producer of some of the purest amphetamines in the world. The report of the European regional meeting of the Heads of Narcotics Law Enforcement Agencies in September 1998 cited Poland as a source of concern in production, with 25 percent of the total European product coming from Poland. Exports to Western Europe have risen as well, thanks in large part to Poland's reputation for producing high-quality narcotics. Crime groups dealing with the illegal production of amphetamines have professional laboratory equipment at their disposal, and more and more often qualified chemists with comprehensive knowledge and experience run the production process. Laboratories are increasingly located in sophisticated environments where their production can be monitored carefully.

Used by international crime groups because of its central location and open borders, Poland remains a transit point for drugs going to Western Europe and Scandinavia. A stop on the main smuggling routes of heroin from the Golden Crescent and cannabis from South Asia, Morocco and Nigeria, Poland is also an increasingly popular transit country for cocaine shipped from South America to Western Europe. Polish police authorities report that heroin traffic through Poland is controlled predominantly by Nigerian, Turkish, Indian and Pakistani nationals. All of these groups actively recruit Polish couriers to transport heroin into Western Europe.

The PNP reports that Polish organized crime groups have established working relations with local organizations in Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Italy. International trucking, tourist buses and boats have been joined by express mail couriers as favorite means of transporting drugs through Poland. Police have seized significant amounts of narcotics hidden in picture frames and furniture that were sent through the mail. The PNP estimates that there are a dozen or so laboratories within Poland producing high-quality amphetamines for the needs of the home market as well as for "export," mainly to Germany and Scandinavia. Some Polish organized criminal groups, involved in large-scale automobile theft, have developed ties with drug-trafficking groups in Poland. Russian organized criminal groups control some extortion and prostitution, as well as street-level drug trafficking.



Internet research assisted by Melissa Donahue and Nicole Ann Findlay

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