Tuesday November 9, 2004

U.N. Demands Poland Overturn Laws Against Abortion

GENEVA, November 9, 2004 ( – The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) concluded a review on Poland’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), demanding that the mostly-Catholic nation “liberalize” its abortion laws. The UN committee composed of 18 UN human rights “experts” from various countries met with Polish officials on October 27 and 28, making its observations and recommendations on November 4.

While, the UN itself and the ICCPR specifically does not officially promote abortion, both the organization and the committee enforcing the ICCPR have often been criticized for meddling in the contentious issue. The November 4 statement of the UNHRC is particularly blunt in demanding Poland legalize abortion. “The State Party should liberalize its legislation and practice on abortion,” it said.

The Committee reiterated its “deep concern about restrictive abortion laws in Poland” and also pushed contraception and sex-education. “The State party should assure the availability of contraceptives and free access to family planning services and methods. The Ministry of Education should ensure that schools include accurate and objective sexual education in their curricula,” said the report.

The UNHRC also addressed the politically hot topic of discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation.” The report stated, “The Committee is concerned that the right of sexual minorities not to be discriminated against is not fully recognised, and that discriminatory acts and attitudes against persons on the ground of sexual orientation are not adequately investigated and punished.” The committee demanded that “The State Party should provide appropriate training to law enforcement and judicial officials in order to sensitise them to the rights of sexual minorities. Discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation should be specifically prohibited in Polish law.”

Lech Kowalewski, spokesman for the Polish Federation of Pro-life Movements told that the report was a “UN attack on the sovereignty of Poland.” Kowalewski is concerned that the UN report may influence the Polish government to adopt a pro-abortion bill which is under consideration (See coverage of the bill )

Abortion supporters in the Polish Parliament welcomed the UN demands. “These regulations have to be changed but that needs serious discussion,” Cezary Mizejewski, secretary of state at the Social Affairs Ministry, told Reuters Monday. “It is good that we have (the U.N.) report and it will reopen this discussion. We cannot keep to the old view that everything is fine and just close our eyes,” he said.

However, Anna Sobecka, a parliamentarian from the Polish League of Families remained firm. “Abortion should be completely outlawed … Abortion is manslaughter, it’s murder,” she said. “What is a baby, even one created by rape, guilty of that we commit him to death?”

The members of the UNHRC and their countries of origin are: Abdelfattah Amor (Tunisia); Nisuke Ando (Japan); Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati (India); Alfredo Castillero Hoyos (Panama); Christine Chanet (France); Franco Depasquale (Malta); Maurice Glèlè-Ahanhanzo (Benin); Walter Kälin (Switzerland); Ahmed Tawfik Khalil (Egypt); Rajsoomer Lallah (Mauritius); Rafael Rivas Posada (Colombia); Sir Nigel Rodley (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland); Martin Scheinin (Finland); Ivan Shearer (Australia); Hipolito Solari-Yrigoyen (Argentina); Ruth Wedgwood (United States of America); Roman Wieruszewski (Poland); and Maxwell Yalden (Canada).

See the UNHRC concluding recommendations:


SHARE THIS STORY: E-mail Print Newsvine Digg Reddit Facebook