Commissioner for Citizens’ Rights

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COMMISSIONER FOR CITIZENS’ RIGHTS (CCR) – the constitutional one-person body of law protection, safeguarding the freedoms and rights of persons and citizens specified in the Constitution and other normative acts. The scope of subject matter of this protection covers all rights and freedoms granted to citizens also in other normative acts (e.g., international agreements ratified by Poland). CCR is one of the institutions of Ombudsman in Poland, it was established in 1987, and the first CCR was Professor Ewa Łętowska. The Commissioner is appointed by the Sejm with the consent of the Senate, whom he/she annually informs about his/her activities and reports on the degree of respect accorded to the freedoms and rights of persons and citizens. The term of office of CCR lasts 5 years. The CCR is independent in his/her activities, independent of other state organs and is accountable only to the Sejm. The Commissioner is entitled to immunity which can only be reversed by the Sejm, he/she should be apolitical (he/she cannot be at the same time a deputy, a senator, cannot hold any other post, except for a professorship in an institute of higher education, nor perform any other professional activities, he cannot belong to a political party, a trade union or perform other public activities incompatible with the dignity of his office). The CCR’s activities take place at the request of the citizens whose rights and freedoms were infringed and on his/her own initiative. In the latter case, the Commissioner may conduct an investigation on his/her own, apply for examining the case or its part to competent bodies, or he/she can apply to the Sejm to order the → Supreme Audit Office to conduct an inspection to examine a specific case or its part. The Commissioner executes his/her tasks through: undertaking appropriate activities in order to remove the resultant infringements of rights or freedoms in given cases, initiating actions aiming at eliminating the hierarchical discrepancies found in legal acts, approaching the relevant agencies with proposals for legislative initiative; influencing the direction of interpretation of law regarding the rights and freedoms of persons and citizens. The Commissioner is also entitled to some rights regarding initiating a procedure and taking part in examination before the common and administrative courts, demand that proceedings be instituted in civil and criminal cases, filing for cassation in civil, criminal and court-administrative proceedings. The CCR can also take part in proceedings before the Constitutional Tribunal. The structure: an auxiliary unit of the CCR is the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Commissioner can appoint up to three deputies and also field proxies [ I. Malinowska ].

Literature: L. Garlicki, Polskie prawo konstytucyjne. Zarys wykładu [Polish constitutional law. An outline of a lecture], Warszawa 2016.