In response to the current developments considering the planned May 2020 Presidential Election in Poland, the director of Amnesty International Poland Draginja Nadaždin has issued a statement directed at the higher chamber of the Polish Parliament- the Senat.
In the statement, she highlights the importance of safeguarding human rights during the election period and the potential threats to these regulations posed by the rushed organisation of the election during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want to highlight the threats posed to human rights compliance in Poland within the election period and the obligation of the Polish state to create an environment that allows its citizens to freely and openly take part in public life and governance.”
According to the report, the following human rights and freedoms are threatened:
- The right to assembly
- The right to free movement
- The right to freedom from fear
Nadaždin highlights the importance of the right to assembly in the context of the election period, that would be greatly hindered by the current COVID-19-related regulations. Additionally, holding the election during the crisis would pose a threat to the health of the citizens and could potentially prevent certain groups from participating.
The process of passing regulations that would make the vote possible seems to be rushed, introducing a further layer of uncertainty in the structural organisation of the election. The Senat is currently working on a bill that would allow for the election to be carried out on the 10th of May. The expiration date of the current COVID-19 quarantine regulations in Poland is unknown. Most public spaces remain closed. The closure of schools has been confirmed to last at least until the 24th of May.
“Carrying out these elections would be in direct opposition to the Principle of specificity and stability of law. The regulations concerning the electoral process should be constituted in advance and concise enough to prevent potential interference in the full exercise of political rights of the citizens.”
In relation to all of the mentioned points, Amnesty International is urging the Polish Government to ensure the safeguarding of human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic and the election period.
“Considering the circumstances mentioned above, we hope that the highlighted standards will be respected in the works of the Senat and will contribute to fulfilment of Poland’s obligations to safeguard human rights prior to and during the election […].”