Poland: Police services in the province of Malopolska, including structure, area coverage by individual stations, working hours and response to emergency calls, particularly in Zreczyce and Gdów; police response in rural areas to emergency calls from victims of domestic violence, particularly in Malopolska (1997-2003)
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||16 September 2003|
|Citation / Document Symbol||POL41918.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Poland: Police services in the province of Malopolska, including structure, area coverage by individual stations, working hours and response to emergency calls, particularly in Zreczyce and Gdów; police response in rural areas to emergency calls from victims of domestic violence, particularly in Malopolska (1997-2003), 16 September 2003, POL41918.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/403dd2138.html [accessed 7 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Information on police services in the province of Malopolska, and their response to emergency calls from victims of domestic violence, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, the following general information on police and societal response to domestic violence may be relevant.
According to the July 2002 publication entitled Domestic Violence in Poland by the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, the Women's Rights Center (WRC) in Warsaw and the International Women's Human Rights Clinic of Georgetown University, there is a "problem of police inaction" in cases of domestic violence in Poland's rural areas (23). The report indicates that
Police reluctance to act and the scarcity of resources available to women in rural areas leave many trapped in abusive relationships, at risk [of] severe injury and possibly death. One counselor noted, "In big cities, people are more open and willing to talk about domestic violence, but in small villages they are more closed. They think it is a private matter." Women in rural communities also often lack information about domestic violence programs (Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights et. al July 2002, 14).
The report also added that
Many interviewees reported that even when women do call the police, officers in both rural and urban communities feel apprehensive about getting involved. An attorney in Gdansk noted, "sometimes [the police] know the family and they decide not to intervene. The police know the neighborhoods and the families, so when there are minor incidences or a house with a history of domestic violence, they do not bother to go to the house" (ibid., 22).
Similarly, information on the Website of PSF Centrum Kobiet (PSF Women's Centre), a Warsaw-based feminist foundation (PSF n.d.), indicates that the "[p]olice has long been reluctant to intervene in 'family matters'" (ibid. May-June 1999).
According to research conducted in Poland, "domestic violence occurs more frequently in families living in rural areas and in low-income families" (WRC n.d.). In respect of small towns and villages, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002 indicated that "[v]iolence against women remained hidden" (31 Mar. 2003, Sec. 5).
Polish Women in the 90's, a report by the WRC, indicates that "cases of domestic violence are rarely treated seriously by both law enforcement officers and prosecutors" (n.d.). This is also stated in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002, which added that in 2002, courts often pronounced lenient verdicts in domestic violence cases or dismissed them altogether (31 Mar. 2003, Sec. 5).
Victims of domestic violence "are often required to deliver well-documented complaints if they want to proceed," even though "the police do not take an active role in gathering evidence" (WRC n.d.). According to the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, a "well-documented" case includes, among other things, statements of witnesses or names of witnesses, and medical documentation (5 Nov. 2000, 335), namely "numerous medical certificates" that victims must acquire and pay for (WRC n.d.).
For additional information on recourse and protection available to victims of domestic violence in Poland, please refer to POL35072.E of 1 August 2000, as well as the attached excerpt from the 1999 "Report on Implementation of Women's Rights in Poland," by the PSF Women's Centre.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002. 31 March 2003. United States Department of State. Washington, D.C.
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. 5 November 2000. Women 2000: An Investigation Into the Status of Women's Rights in Central and South-Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States.
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Women's Rights Center (WRC) and International Women's Human Rights Clinic. July 2002. Domestic Violence in Poland.
PSF Centrum Kobiet (PSF). n.d. "PSF Centrum Kobiet."
_____. May-June 1999. "Report on Implementation of Women's Rights in Poland."
Women's Rights Center (WRC) [Warsaw]. n.d. Urszula Nowakowska. "Violence Against Women." Polish Women in the 90's.
Additional Sources Consulted
The Women's Rights Center did not respond to a letter requesting information within time constraints.
Internet sites, including:
Dziennik Polski [Kraków, Malopolska] (no search engine)
European Country of Origin Information Network
Human Rights Watch
Komenda Glówna Policji (Police Headquarters)
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Oska (National Women's Information Centre)
Polish Press Agency (PAP)
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
TVP 3 (Serwis TV Kraków)
United Kingdom, Immigration and Nationality Directorate
United Nations, Division for the Advancement of Women
World Health Organization
PSF Centrum Kobiet (PSF). May-June 1999. "Report on Implementation of Women's Rights in Poland."
Domestic Violence ... Almost 90 per cent of perpetrators [in Poland] are the victim's husbands or partners.
Police has long been reluctant to intervene in "family matters", however, since 1998 an education campaign was started: police men and women have been trained and a so-called "blue card" has been introduced, which, among other things, provides for ... better statistics on domestic violence. The scope of domestic violence, however, still remains unknown. Women still keep this crime silent.
Generally in Poland a human right to due process ... is often violated, which in [the] case of domestic violence means that women are battered even more while the case is on trial (and often by men who are already sentenced to penalties [on] suspension). There are no court procedures that would limit [a] perpetrator's freedom of movement (such as restriction order, etc.). The court order to move out ([eviction] from apartment) is seldom implemented and the police are reluctant to interfere even in cases of violence against an ex-wife.
In Poland, a system of state protection of witnesses has not been built [to] date, except in cases of organized crime. This lack of protection often results in the growth of violence on the part of perpetrators against their victims, as well as [against any] witnesses of the crime.
The Polish courts often treat domestic violence as a minor crime, pronounce low verdicts or dismiss cases.
Recommended norms regarding the number of shelters for battered women are not respected in Poland. For instance, in the capital city of Warsaw (approx. 2 million inhabitants) there are practically three to four shelters for women (mostly for single mothers). In the whole country there [are] no more than 8 to 10 shelters for women victims of violence providing psychological, medical and legal aid.
There are approximately 150 various consultancy centres, where women can obtain information and 130 to 150 shelters for homeless people, where victims of domestic violence can also find shelter. However, their general state results in frequent incidents of sexual harassment and rape of these women.
For instance, a homeless woman was raped by an ex-client of the Monar shelter upgraded to become its manager, imprisoned there by him and forced to bear his child.
In 1997 when the new government came into power, the office of the Governmental Plenipotentiary for Women and Family was changed into the Governmental Plenipotentiary for Family headed by a man. His first decision was to dismiss the Program Council [of the National Program for Women] and stop the Program's implementation. In the view of the present Plenipotentiary, the question of domestic violence in Poland has been exaggerated by the previous government for purely political reasons.
Official statistics categorize domestic violence as a crime against family and show that 80 per cent of its victims are women. In 1995, the police intervened 921,000 times in cases of "family crisis", 20,000 persons were investigated as suspected of domestic violence.
In 1996, the courts issued verdicts in 15,412 trials. 90.1 per cent of perpetrators got suspended penalties, and 76.5 per cent of them got penalties ranging from six months to one year imprisonment.
Women victims of domestic violence are often subject to torture....
For instance, in [a] case [of] domestic violence it was revealed that a 21-year-old husband had been torturing his wife for the past two years, including cutting off her upper lip with scissors.