Equinet joins the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s Rapporteur on Ombudsman institutions and the European Network of NHRIs (ENNHRI) and the Global Alliance of NHRIs in expressing concern and calling for guaranteeing the independence of the Polish equality body, the Commissioner for Human Rights.
On 11 February the Polish Public Television (Telewizja Polska – TVP S.A.) filed a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Adam Bodnar, the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, an Equinet member equality body. The lawsuit is filed against Mr. Bodnar as a private individual, due to a statement about hate speech made shortly after the assassination of the mayor of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz. Providing a commentary on actions that might amount to hate speech falls within the mandate of the Commissioner for Human Rights to promote equality as the Polish national equality body.
Equinet is concerned that this lawsuit filed by the public broadcaster might signal an attempt to undermine the equality body’s independence and prevent it from fulfilling its mandate of promoting equality and combatting discrimination. This would be an unacceptable breach of standards set by the European Commission Recommendation on standards for equality bodies and the General Policy Recommendation No. 2 on equality bodies to combat racism and intolerance at national level of the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).
Standards guarantee the independence of equality bodies and ECRI standards explicitly require that equality bodies should function without any interference from the State, political parties or other actors and provide that persons holding leadership positions should benefit from functional immunity.
Equality bodies addressing hate speech (2018)Read more about Equinet and equality bodies’ work on hate speech in our recent Perspective “Extending the Agenda. Equality Bodies addressing Hate Speech“.