ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns the ongoing crackdown on protests against the abortion ban in Poland, and police brutality against protesters and journalists. We call for the immediate cessation of persecution and violence against those exercising their right to protest and to report on protest related issues. The protests concern a matter of crucial public interest for women’s reproductive rights, and participation in public life, and the right to protest on this issue must be protected.
For more than a month, hundreds of thousands of people have gathered and protested across the country against the decision of the Constitutional Court to ban abortions in cases of foetal abnormality. The Constitutional Court has been criticised for its lack of independence in recent years. The protests, led by women and organised by the Women’s Strike initiative, have reached an unprecedented scale including in small towns and communities.
The Polish authorities claim that the use of force against protesters is necessary for the purposes of fighting COVID-19 and is in response to protesters breaking the temporary movement restrictions. Prosecutor General and Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro announced that activists will be prosecuted for organising and instigating ‘illegal gatherings’ “on the basis of causing danger to the health and life of people by spreading the virus”. He also ordered the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw to initiate criminal proceedings against all persons who made public the names and faces of the police officers that practiced brutal and violent tactics against protesters and journalists.
The full article is published on the website of Article 19.
Safety of journalists