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    Poland in the vanguard of protection for victims of domestic violence

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Poland is among a small group of European countries that guarantee the highest standard of protection mainly for women and children concerning domestic violence.

    Zbigniew Ziobro, Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General, said at a press conference devoted to recommendations for the prosecutor’s office to be able to counter domestic violence more effectively, that thanks to the legislation on domestic violence developed at the ministry, Poland “is among a small group of European countries that guarantee the highest standard of protection mainly for women and children concerning domestic violence.”

    “I think that these statutory changes introduced by our government, prepared in the Ministry, are the best answer to the accusations of various left-wing circles, the opposition, which cast doubt on our government’s concern for the fate of Polish women,”

    he assessed.

    “We, unlike our critics, do not make loud slogans, but introduce real changes which, in specific situations related to violence, improve the fate of women and children affected by such situations by years,”

    he added. 

    According to Ziobro, before the changes, the average waiting time to remove a perpetrator of domestic violence from the home took about six months, while now it is an action that takes about an hour.

    “These are solutions that have revolutionised real protection for women and children who are subjected to (domestic -ed.) violence in our country,”

    he assessed.

    “This is a great achievement of this government, a great achievement of the Ministry of Justice in particular. I am happy and proud to have been able to oversee and prepare these changes. Once again, I would like to thank all those who have put a lot of work into this, led by Deputy Minister Marcin Romanowski,”

    Ziobro added.

    Not only punishment but also support

    Agnieszka Welenc, a prosecutor in the Bureau of the National Prosecutor’s Office, said that the Prosecutor General’s guidelines on countering domestic violence are extensive, as they cover not only criminal proceedings but also a wide range of activities in administrative and civil proceedings.

    “It is also a collaboration in combating and preventing crime with other bodies and entities working in this area,”

    she added.

    Welenc explained that the guidelines are issued in order to “unify and systematise the practice of prosecutors’ offices across the country in dealing with cases marked by domestic violence.”

    As the Ministry of Justice said in a press release, such information will be provided by, among others, “entities which have received a grant for this purpose from the Justice Fund.” This purpose is also served by posting information on the websites of the prosecutor’s offices about entities that provide assistance to victims in the area of psychological assistance, legal counselling and specialised counselling or provide shelter to victims.

    Another area, said prosecutor Welenc, which was included in the guidelines, is the issue of the specificity of the prosecutors’ activities in those proceedings in which the victims are minors, persons with disabilities, persons incapacitated due to their age or state of health.

    As the Ministry of the Interior stated in the communiqué, “in the case of minors, a guardian will be appointed immediately,” and “proceedings for the limitation – in extreme cases also the termination – of parental authority may also be initiated ex officio.”

    The Ministry of Justice also noted that “the new provisions also oblige prosecutors to react strongly to any use of threats or violence against the victim and witnesses – in such a situation, they are obliged to immediately clarify the circumstances or, if there are reasonable grounds, initiate a criminal case.”

    Last Thursday, the Sejm (Lower House of Parliament – ed.) adopted an amendment to, inter alia, the Code of Civil Procedure, which extends the provisions in force for almost two years known as the so-called ‘Anti-Harassment Act.’ The amendment aims to strengthen the protection of persons suffering from domestic violence by comprehensively regulating institutions not only of civil law but also of criminal law.

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