Polish MPs approve ban on counter-rallies
PR dla Zagranicy
Polish MPs on Friday gave the green light to new rules that would ban counter-rallies from taking place in the same place as public assemblies.
Law and Justice leader Jarosław Kaczyński (centre, front row) and Mariusz Błaszczak (right). Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak
Government ministers have rejected criticism that the planned changes would limit civil rights.
The lower house of parliament, dominated by the conservative Law and Justice party which came to power in October last year, backed rules that give priority to gatherings organized by public authorities, churches and religious groups.
Before the vote, Interior Minister Mariusz Błaszczak insisted the changes would not restrict civil rights.
"This is a law about resolving social conflicts," he said.
"It does not make sense for two groups to demonstrate in one place at the same time. That would lead to confrontation, to brawls,” Błaszczak added.
The planned changes in the law have been criticised by Poland’s Human Rights Ombudsman, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the All-Poland Trade Union Agreement federation and also by the organizers of Poland’s annual Independence Day March.
The bill amending rules on public gatherings was on Friday backed by 224 deputies, with 196 against and 14 abstaining. The bill will now be debated by the Senate, the upper house.
The new rules would also enable regional authorities to give permission that will be in force for three years for gatherings organized regularly on a given site.