Statewatch article: RefNo# 36646
POLAND: New counter-terrorism bill to give "unchecked power" to Internal Security Agency
Statewatch News Online, June 2016
A briefing by Amnesty International outlines the "unchecked power" that will be given to Poland's Internal Security Agency by a new counter-terrorism bill.

The bill includes provisions that would introduce a 14 day "pre-charge detention regime" for a newly-invented category of persons, "terrorism suspects". This will drag Poland down to the level of the UK, which currently has the longest maximum period of pre-charge detention in the EU.

However, there is far more to the bill, as outlined in Amnesty's briefing:

"A counter-terrorism bill set for final adoption by the Upper House of the parliament (Senat) this week in Poland consolidates sweeping powers, including enhanced surveillance capacity, in the hands of the Internal Security Agency (ISA), with no independent oversight mechanism to prevent abuse and ensure proper accountability. The bill risks violating the rights to liberty, privacy, expression, association, peaceful assembly, and non-discrimination. Amnesty International has also criticized the fast-track process for deliberating upon and passing the bill, and the near absence of consultation and authentic debate with civil society in that process."

See the full briefing: Amnesty International public statement: Poland: Counter-terrism bill would give security service unchecked power (pdf) and on the Amnesty website (link).

It provides an overview of the bill under the following headings: Concentration of Internal Security Agency powers - Expansion of surveillance powers - Extended pre-charge detention - Infringement of freedom of expression - Infringement of freedom of peaceful assembly - Foreign nationals targeted.

This bill follows the strengthening of police powers in January this year. Amnesty's briefing notes that:

"The combined powers enshrined in the Police Act and in the counter-terrorism bill raise serious concerns that the right to privacy will be infringed in the course of police and ISA operations, with little or no recourse to a remedy for those subjected to unlawful surveillance measures."

For a detailed examination of January law, see:Venice Commission: Poland: Opinion on the act of 15 January 2016 amending the Police Act and certain other acts (pdf). The opinion was adopted on 13 June 2016.

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