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POLAND - Abolitionist

Government: republic
State of civil and political rights: Free
Constitution: adopted by the National Assembly 2 April 1997; passed by national referendum 25 May 1997; effective 17 October 1997
Legal System: based on a mixture of Continental (Napoleonic) civil law and holdover Communist legal theory; changes being gradually introduced as part of broader democratization process;
Legislative System: bicameral National Assembly (Zgromadzenie Narodowe) consists of the Sejm and the Senate
Judicial System: Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the National Council of the Judiciary for an indefinite period); Constitutional Tribunal (judges are chosen by the Sejm for nine-year terms)
Religion: Roman Catholic 89.8%, Protestant 1.36%, other


International Treaties on the Death Penalty and Human Rights:
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • 1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
  • Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (aiming to the abolition of the death penalty)
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
  • 6th Protocol to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (concerning the abolition of the death penalty)
  • European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances
  • Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)


FACTS

Poland abolished the death penalty in 1997 and a penal code introduced in 1998 replaced it with life imprisonment. The death penalty was abolished despite vocal campaigning by right-wing activists who pointed out that more than 60 percent of Poles supported capital punishment for brutal murders. The last execution was carried out in 1988. On October 22, 2004 Polish members of parliament narrowly voted against reintroducing the death penalty following a series of murders that had attracted public notoriety. President Aleksander Kwasniewski had threatened to veto the proposal if parliament voted to bring back capital punishment seven years after its abolition for all crimes. According to press reports, the proposal by the opposition Law and Justice Party was rejected by the lower house of parliament by a vote of 198 to 194 with 14 abstentions. Following the vote, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said that the reintroduction of the death penalty would have "compromised Poland in the international arena".
On 24 April 2014, Poland acceded to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, becoming the 81st state to do so. On 23 May 2014, Poland also ratified Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances, becoming the 44th State of the Council of Europe to do so.
On December 19, 2016, Poland once again co-sponsored and voted in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.

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