ECHR decision in the case of Drozd v. Poland
– This is yet another important judgment showing that the European Court of Human Rights strengthens procedural protections for citizens taking part in demonstrations regarding the independence of the judiciary and reforms often opposed by the public. I consider the case to be a precedent-setting one, important for political rights in Poland, including the right to manifest one's views, especially in the context of the ongoing public debate in our country. Recall that the Court communicated the case relatively quickly. It shows the validity of the allegations raised in the complaint – says adv. Małgorzata Mączka-Pacholak.
The Court held that Poland was to pay the applicants jointly EUR 1,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 2,361 in respect of costs and expenses.
In the summer of 2017, a series of protests against planned reforms of the judiciary took place in Poland. On 22 June 2017, the applicants participated in a peaceful demonstration against the reforms outside the grounds of the Sejm. They were granted entry passes to the Sejm to observe the parliamentary debate. As soon as they had gone through the entrance gate into the grounds, they unfurled a banner carrying the slogan “Defend Independent Courts” (Brońcie niezależnych sadów). They were immediately escorted out of the grounds and their entry passes were taken off them. The Head of the Parliamentary Service subsequently banned them from entering the premises for a year. Their appeals against the ban, which they alleged limited their right to have access to public information, were rejected because the Head of Parliament Security was not an administrative authority, and his decisions could not be challenged before the administrative courts.
Polish citizens on their way to Strasbourg
Relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association), the applicants complained that the ban on their entering the Sejm had infringed their Convention rights. They argued that the decision of the Head of Parliament Security had had no proper legal basis and lacked precision and clarity on when and for how long somebody’s right to enter the grounds and buildings of the Sejm could be restricted. They contended that the sanction was disproportionate and had been imposed arbitrarily and without a way of challenging it effectively before a court
The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 9 March 2019.