Protest rights well-respected during large abortion demonstrations

Peaceful Assembly

Despite Poland's well-documented democratic decline over recent months, authorities still largely respect the right to protest, which provides a vital conduit for Polish citizens to express their concerns and demands. This was evident during huge 'Black Monday' protests on 3rd October when tens of thousands dressed in black took to the streets to oppose legislation aimed at criminalising all abortions and which imposes a maximum five-year prison sentence on those that break the law. The largest gathering of between 22,000 and 30,000 people took place in Warsaw with an estimated 140 other gatherings across the country and dozens of solidarity events across Europe. There were no reported incidents during the gatherings. Legislators, whose work on the controversial law came in response to a citizens' initiative signed by 450,000 Poles, reacted to the mass protests by withdrawing the legislation.


Expression

In early October, an Iraqi Phd student living in Poland Ameer Alkhawlany was arrested and has since been held in detention without a clear charge, pending his deportation. Previously, Alkhawlany had been approached by the Polish security services who had reportedly asked him to help inflitrate the Muslim community in Cracow. He refused these requests on multiple occasions and was subsequently detained withouth being given a reason. In June of this year, the Polish government passed a heavily-criticised counter-terror law, which allows authorities to detain suspects for up to two weeks without charge and allows foreigners to be specifically targetted.