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Poland: IBAHRI calls for charges against lawyer Roman Giertych to be dropped

Tuesday 10 November 2020

The detention and politically motivated prosecution of prominent Polish lawyer Roman Giertych, is of great concern to the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI). Mr Giertych, who has been involved in a series of high-profile cases against Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party, was detained on 15 October 2020 under accusations of money laundering.  

Files and computers belonging to Mr Giertych have been seized. During a search of his home, he suffered a stroke, fell unconscious and was hospitalised.

IBAHRI Co-Chair and former Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996–2006), the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, commented: The IBAHRI calls on Poland’s authorities to drop all charges against Roman Giertych, ensure his wellbeing, and safeguard his professional rights and guarantees. The actions takenagainst Mr Giertych illustrate yet another attempt by the Polish government to silence critics. The Polish authorities’ utter disrespect for the role that an independent legal profession plays in a properly functioning democracy, leads one to remind Poland of the importance of the rule of law and the country’s international commitments to uphold it.

Principle 16 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers states: governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference, and shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognised professional duties, standards and ethics.

Further, Principle 18 states: lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result of discharging their functions.

IBAHRI Co-Chair and immediate past Secretary-General of the Swedish Bar Association, Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc, commented: ‘Once again, the IBAHRI is deeply concerned about the abuse of power by the Polish authorities to intimidate and further weaken the legal profession in Poland. Lawyers must be free to conduct their work without fear of governmental retribution. An independent legal profession is to be treasured. The constant undermining of it in Poland is scandalous, and runs counter to European democracy. Poland’s systematic and bold rule of law violations are robbing citizens of their rights and are dangerous for the whole of Europe. The IBAHRI stands in solidarity with colleagues in Poland.’

In a media report, Adam Bodnar, Poland’s official ombudsman, is cited as saying the manner of the arrest of Mr Giertych has raised the ‘highest concerns and demanded explanations.’

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

  1. Related material: Click here for IBAHRI work on Poland. www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/Work_by_regions/Europe/Poland
  2. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
  3. The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

For further information please contact:

Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association
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London EC4A 4AD

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IBA website page link for this news release:
Short link: tinyurl.com/y5qcrrta