POLAND
Republic of Poland
Rzeczpospolita Polska
Joined United Nations:  24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
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Updated 03 October 2012
CAPITAL
POPULATION
CHIEF OF STATE
SELECTION PROCESS
Warsaw
38,415,284 (July 2012 est.)
Bronislaw Komorowski
President since 05 July 2010
President elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible
for a second term); election last held 05 July 2010

Next scheduled election: July 2015
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
SELECTION PROCESS
Donald Tusk
Prime Minister since 16 November 2007
Prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the
president and confirmed by the Sejm: Elections last held last
held 9 October 2011

Next election:  
To be held by October 2015
DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
ETHNIC GROUPS
Polish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belarussian 0.1%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other and unspecified 2.7% (2002 census)
RELIGIONS
Roman Catholic 89.8% (about 75% practicing), Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified
8.3% (2002)
GOVERNMENT
STRUCTURE
Republic comprised of 16 provinces (wojewodztwa, singular - wojewodztwo); Legal system is a mixture of
Continental (Napoleonic) civil law and holdover Communist legal theory; changes being gradually introduced as part
of broader democratization process; limited judicial review of legislative acts, but rulings of the Constitutional
Tribunal are final; court decisions can be appealed to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg; accepts
compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Executive:  President elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 05
July 2010 (next to be held July 2015); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president and
confirmed by the Sejm
Legislative: bicameral legislature consisting of an upper house, the Senate or Senat (100 seats; members are
elected by a majority vote on a provincial basis to serve four-year terms), and a lower house, the Sejm (460 seats;
members are elected under a complex system of proportional representation to serve four-year terms); the
designation of National Assembly or Zgromadzenie Narodowe is only used on those rare occasions when the two
houses meet jointly
elections: Senate - last held on 9 October 2011 (next to be held by October 2015); Sejm - last held on 9 October
2011 (next to be held by October 2015)
Judicial: 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)
LANGUAGES
Polish 97.8%, other and unspecified 2.2% (2002 census)
BRIEF HISTORY
ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
Poland has pursued a policy of economic liberalization since 1990 and today stands out as a success story among
transition economies. It is the only country in the European Union to avoid a recession through the 2008-09
economic downturn, although GDP per capita is still much below the EU average. Since 2004, EU membership and
access to EU structural funds have provided a major boost to the economy. Unemployment has been 2% more than
the EU average. Inflation reached a low of about 2.6% in 2010 due to the global economic slowdown, but climbed
to 4.3% in 2011. Poland's economic performance could improve over the longer term if the country addresses some
of the remaining deficiencies in its road and rail infrastructure and its business environment. An inefficient commercial
court system, a rigid labor code, bureaucratic red tape, burdensome tax system, and persistent low-level corruption
keep the private sector from performing up to its full potential. Weak revenues, together with rising demands to fund
healthcare, education, and the state pension system caused the public sector budget deficit to rise to 7.8% of GDP in
2010, but the PO/PSL coalition government, which came to power in November 2007, took measures to shore up
public finances - including increasing contributions to the public pension scheme at the expense of private pension
funds - and reduced the deficit to 2.9% of GDP in 2011. For 2012 the coalition government has proposed further
deficit-reducing reforms and to fulfill its promise to enact business-friendly reforms.
Source:
CIA World Factbook (select Poland)
POLITICAL CLIMATE
Coalition talks ensued simultaneously with the presidential elections. However, the severity of the campaign attacks
and the willingness of PiS to court the populist vote had soured the relationship between the two largest parties and
made the creation of a stable coalition impossible. The ostensible stumbling blocks were the insistence of PiS that it
control all aspects of law enforcement: the Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs, and the special forces; as well as
the forcing through of a PiS candidate for the head of the Sejm with help of several smaller populist parties. The PO
decided to go into opposition.

The new government enjoyed quite strong public support (as is, in fact, generally common in the first few months
after an election), while the popularity of the populist parties giving it support has significantly waned. With this
background, a parliamentary crisis appeared to loom in January 2006, with these small populist parties fearing that
PiS was about to force new elections (on which they would lose out) by using the pretext of failing to pass the budget
within the constitutional timeframe. However, this crisis appears to have abated.

In July 2006, following a rift with his party leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, Marcinkiewicz tendered his resignation as
Prime Minister and was replaced by Kaczyński, who formed a new government. This government lasted until
October 2007, when Donald Tusk's PO gained the lead again, and Kaczýnski announced to go into opposition. On
10 April 2010, several members of the political elite were killed in an air crash outside of Pechyrsk, Smolensk
Oblast, Russia
including President Lech Kaczyński. The Constitution required the Marshal of the Sejm to declare the
date within two weeks, with the election to take place on a weekend within the following 60 days, i.e. 20 June at the
latest. On 21 April, the Marshal, Bronisław Komorowski, announced the election date as 20 June 2010. Candidates
were required to register by 26 April 2010 (with 1,000 signatures of voters in support) and submit 100,000
signatures by May 6, 2010. Originally, Kaczyński was up for re-election between 19 September and 3 October; the
exact date would have been announced between 23 May and 23 June, before the end of his first five-year term of
office. Two candidates for the election died in the crash. Incumbent Lech Kaczyński was nominated as the Law and
Justice party candidate (he had yet to accept the nomination, but it was widely believed that he would do so), and
Jerzy Szmajdziński was to have run for the Democratic Left Alliance. Senate by-elections to fill the three seats whose
senators died in the crash – Krystyna Bochenek (PO), Janina Fetlińska (PiS) and Stanisław Zając (PiS, himself
elected in a by-election on 22 June 2008 to replace Andrzej Mazurkiewicz) – were held on the same day.

Wikipedia: Politics of Poland
INTERNATIONAL
DISPUTES
As a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Poland has implemented the strict Schengen border
rules to restrict illegal immigration and trade along its eastern borders with Belarus and Ukraine
U.S. State Department
United Nations Human
Rights Council
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Freedom House
REFUGEES AND
INTERNALLY
DISPLACED PERSONS
(IDP)
Refugees (country of origin): 14,730 (Russian Federation) (2010)
ILLICIT DRUGS
Despite diligent counternarcotics measures and international information sharing on cross-border crimes, a major
illicit producer of synthetic drugs for the international market; minor transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin
and Latin American cocaine to Western Europe
Helsinki Foundation for
Human Rights Warsaw
U. S. STATE
DEPARTMENT
HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
2011 Human Rights Report: Poland
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
20
11 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May
25, 2012

Poland is a republic with a multiparty democracy. The bicameral National Assembly consists of an upper house, the Senate (Senat),
and a lower house (Sejm). The president, the prime minister, the Council of Ministers, and the Sejm share executive power. The
national assembly elections in October were considered free and fair. Prime Minister Donald Tusk, leader of the ruling Civic
Platform Party, governed in a coalition with a smaller political party. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.

Among the country’s principal human rights problems were an inefficient judicial system and lengthy court procedures, which
impeded the delivery of justice. During the year unknown persons carried out a number of attacks of symbolic vandalism against
sites tied to the Holocaust or the German and Lithuanian ethnic minorities. There was also a substantial increase in government
monitoring of phone locations and call logs without judicial review.

Other human rights problems included government delays complying with decisions of the European Court for Human Rights
(ECHR) and delayed restitution of private property. Defamation laws restricted freedom of speech and press by criminalizing
speech, publications, and material on the Internet that insulted or defamed public officials. Societal problems included discrimination
against women in the labor market; sexual exploitation of children; trafficking in persons; and discrimination and violence against
ethnic minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. Violations of workers’ rights to organize and join
unions and to strike and antiunion discrimination also occurred.

The government generally enforced human rights and took steps to prosecute officials who committed abuses, whether in the
security services or elsewhere in the government
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UNITED NATIONS
HUMAN RIGHTS
COUNCIL
7 September 2011
Human Rights Council
Eighteenth session
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to
development
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of
the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products
and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, Calin
Georgescu
Mission to Poland (25-31 May 2011)

Summary
The Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the
enjoyment of human rights conducted a
country visit to Poland, at the invitation of the Government, from 25 to 31 May 2011. The
purpose of his visit was to examine the progress made and the difficulties encountered by
the country in the implementation of its
obligations under human rights law and
environmental law to ensure the safe and environmentally sound management and disposal
of hazardous products and wastes. In particular, the Special Rapporteur focused on the
measures taken by Poland to guarantee, in
accordance with the Aarhus Convention, the
right of access to information, public participation in decision-making, and access to
justice
in environmental matters.

The Special Rapporteur welcomes the significant progress made by Poland in protecting its people from the adverse impact that
hazardous chemicals and toxic wastes
may have on the effective enjoyment of human rights. Poland is a party to a number of
international and regional human rights treaties ad multilateral environmental agreements,
and has developed an impressive legal and
institutional framework to ensure the
environmentally sound management of toxic and dangerous products and wastes throughout
their life cycle.

Despite the progress made, however, there are a number of challenges in the field of chemicals and waste management that need to
be addressed in order to minimize the risks that hazardous chemicals and toxic waste pose to the effective enjoyment of human
rights. To that end, the Special Rapporteur makes a number of recommendations.

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FREEDOM HOUSE
Freedom In The World 2012 Report
Political Rights Score: 1
Civil Liberties Score: 1
Status: Free

Parliamentary elections in October 2011 yielded an unprecedented second term for Prime Minister Donald Tusk of the center-right
Civic Platform party. The Palikot Movement, an outspoken liberal party founded in 2010, won a surprising 10 percent of the
popular vote, bringing homosexual and transgender candidates into the lower house of parliament for the first time.


In April 2010, President Kaczyński and a delegation of Poland’s political, academic, and military elite flew to Russia to
commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet massacre of Polish officers in Katyn Forest. Their plane crashed during a landing
attempt in Smolensk, leaving no survivors. The deceased officials were replaced in accordance with the constitution, and Sejm
speaker Bronisław Komorowski of PO served as interim president until elections could be held in June. Jarosław Kaczyński took his
brother’s place as the PiS candidate, but lost to Komorowski, who took 53 percent in the second round of voting.

The first year of Komorowski’s presidency featured increased polarization between supporters of PiS and PO, with competing
narratives of the Smolensk tragedy remaining a central theme. However, voters ultimately endorsed the ruling coalition in October
2011 parliamentary elections. In the lower house (Sejm), PO won 207 seats, followed by PiS with 157 and a surprising 40 seats for
the liberal Palikot Movement (RP), founded the year before by political provocateur Janusz Palikot. The PSL received 28 seats, and
the SLD won 27. A representative of the ethnic German minority held the remaining seat. In the Senate, PO took 63 seats, PiS won
31, the PSL received two seats, and the remainder went to independents. The elections marked the first time in Poland’s
postcommunist history that a prime minister won a second consecutive term.

From July to December, Poland held the rotating presidency of the EU, where it remained the fastest-growing national economy.
However, its budget deficit stood at nearly 8 percent of gross domestic product throughout the year.

Poland is an electoral democracy. Voters elect the president for up to two five-year terms and members of the bicameral National
Assembly for four-year terms. The president’s appointment of the prime minister is subject to confirmation by the 460-seat Sejm,
the National Assembly’s lower house, which is elected by proportional representation. While the prime minister is responsible for
most government policy, the president’s position also carries significant influence, particularly relating to defense and foreign
policy. The 100-member Senate, whose members are elected in individual districts, can delay and amend legislation but has few
other powers.

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AMNESTY
INTERNATIONAL
20 September 2012
Poland: Amnesty International regrets the lack of transparency and adequate
access to information for victims in the
investigation into government’s
involvement in CIA’s rendition and secret detention programmes
Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcome on Poland


Amnesty International welcomes the assurance from Poland that it is conducting an
investigation into its role in the CIA’s rendition
and secret detention programmes, including in
response to recommendations made during its UPR in May.1 Developments in this
investigation offer some promise of uncovering the extent of Polish involvement in the CIA
operations, as well as some
accountability. However, the failure of the government to ensure
transparency and adequate access to information for the victims in
the investigation contradict
its claims that the investigation is being conducted in accordance with international standards.2

In response to recommendations made by other states in the review, Poland stated that “full transparency with regard to the
investigation is impossible due to the protection of classified
data”.3 Amnesty International is aware that in some limited
circumstances governments can
invoke “national security” as a basis on which to decline to disclose some types of information.
Any such claims, often couched in the language of “state secrets,” must be on a
basis well defined in law, subject to judicial
review, and tested for their necessity and proportionality. However, “national security” cannot be invoked in cases involving human
rights violations, such as torture and enforced disappearance, the prohibitions of which are
peremptory norms of international law
and thus non-derogable.

Victims of human rights violations have the right to an effective remedy and reparation, which entail the right to have the truth
about the violations disclosed and publicly acknowledged by
the authorities. The organization considers that information concerning
gross violations of
human rights should never be subject to withholding from the victims or the public on national security grounds.
Experience shows that “national security” or other similar means is all too
frequently invoked by states in a manner that conceals
and prevents effective remedy and
accountability for such violations.

Amnesty International calls on the Polish authorities to ensure that “national security” and “state secrets” are not invoked to shield
the government or implicated individuals from
accountability for complicity in the CIA rendition and secret detention programmes.
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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Poland: Reject Blanket Ban on Abortion
Proposed Law Would Violate Rights, Endanger Women’s Lives
August 30, 2011

(Warsaw) – The Polish parliament should reject the proposed absolute ban on abortion that is up for a vote on August 31, 2011,
Human Rights Watch said today. The draft bill, “On the Protection of Human Life from the Moment of Conception,” would impose
an absolute ban on abortion in Poland.

The proposal would criminalize all abortions, including for women who are pregnant as a result of rape and women who run a
severe health risk by carrying the pregnancy to term.

“A blanket ban on abortion is an irresponsible move and will force women who need access to abortion to put their lives and health
at risk,” said Gauri van Gulik, women’s rights advocate at Human Rights Watch. “Poland’s restrictive laws should be liberalized,
not made even more Draconian.”

The Citizen Legislative Committee, created by PRO–Right to Life Foundation, a Polish organization, brought the bill to parliament
through a citizen initiative under which a bill can be introduced through a petition with at least 100,000 signatures. Initially, the bill
was sent to the health and family committees in parliament, both of which issued a negative opinion on the bill. Regardless, it is
scheduled to be voted on by the full parliament.

Currently, abortions in Poland are lawful in certain circumstances, including situations in which the pregnancy endangers the
women's life or health; prenatal or other medical tests indicate a high risk that the fetus will be severely and irreversibly damaged or
suffer from an incurable life-threatening disease, or there are strong grounds for believing that the pregnancy is a result of a
criminal act, such as rape.

In 2009, the latest year for which records are available, there were 538 registered legal abortions in Poland. But estimates of the
actual number of abortions are much higher, ranging from 40,000 to 200,000. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in
two cases, Tysiac v. Poland and RR v. Poland, that medical practitioners or lengthy procedures hamper access to abortions in  
Poland,  even for women who have a legal right to an abortion under the current law.


The proposed outright ban on abortion in Poland threatens women’s rights to life, health, equality, privacy, physical integrity, and
freedom of religion and conscience, Human Rights Watch said. Malta is the only other country in the European Union that bans
abortion outright, while Ireland severely restricts access. Poland currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

Click here to read more »
OFFICIAL
GOVERNMENT HUMAN
RIGHTS STATEMENT
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
President addresses UN General Assembly session

A military-first approach is not the proper way to solve difficult internal conflicts, Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski told a
UN General Assembly session in New York on Wednesday.


"We have to draw conclusions from the weakness of to date strategy in that country. A military-first approach is not the proper tool
to solve difficult internal conflicts," the Polish president said.

Referring to the Polish democratic change, Solidarity and the Round Table, President Komorowski said that (over 20 years ago in
Poland - ed.) the two sides of the sharp social conflict, namely on the one side the Polish communist authorities and on the other the
Solidarity movement fighting for democratic changes, in fact for overthrowing communism, had enough wisdom to reach agreement.
"None of the two sides was fully satisfied but the compromise opened up prospects of further changes," Komorowski stressed.

According to the Polish president, the ability of self-control and the strength of a wise compromise is a much better solution than
escalation of demands and settlement of conflicts by force.

The Polish president stressed that the world needed today an effective United Nations Organisation."An effective UN is not less
necessary today than it was in the times of cold war," the Polish president stressed."Superpowers will not disappear but stability and
rules of the international order in a greater degree will require multilateral institutions, norms and mechanisms that will ensure their
observance," Komorowski stressed.

According to the Polish president, the UN is the only institution to fulfill this goal. (PAP)

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COMMISSIONER FOR
CIVIL RIGHTS
PROTECTION
TRANSLATED FROM POLISH BY GOOGLE TRANSLATE
The Constitutional Court has recognized the Ombudsman's finding that the rules for use in correctional institutions for
minors and a system of penalties and rewards are unconstitutional

2 October 2012

In connection with the performance of the Ombudsman's functions National Prevention Mechanism within the meaning of the
Optional Protocol to
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by the
United Nations General Assembly in New York on December 18
2002 (Journal of Laws of 2007 No 30, item. 192) revealed a
problem of the
correctional institutions for minors and a system of sanctions and rewards. Carried out for the analysis of the law
leads to the conclusion that
that this system was created at the level of a regulation adopted in this range without the express
statutory mandate.

At the outset, you need that in accordance with Article. 10 of the Act of 26 October 1982 on juvenile justice (Journal of Laws of
2010, No.
33 item. 178, as amended.) The family court may order the placement of the plant correctional juvenile who has
committed an offense referred to in
art. 1 § 2 point 2. and the Law (ie, offense or tax) if it is justified by the high degree of
corruption of a minor and
circumstances and the nature of the act, especially when other means of education were ineffective or
do not indicate a juvenile rehabilitation. From art. 27 § 1 of the
juvenile justice and shows that the juvenile can be placed in a shelter
for minors, if the circumstances are revealed in favor
by placing it in the correctional facility, and there is a reasonable fear hide or
remove the traces of a minor offense, or if you can not
determine the identity of a minor.

The functioning of correctional facilities and detention centers were regulated in the Ordinance of the Minister of Justice of 17
October
2001 on correctional facilities and detention centers (Journal of Laws No. 124, item. 1359, as amended.) Hereinafter
referred to as Regulation. In accordance with § 65 of the
Regulation may be granted by the Director of the pupil award for: 1)
proper attitude and behavior, 2) the outstanding performance of duties, 3)
exemplary compliance with the Rules of the plant, 4)
achieve very good
learning outcomes.
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HELSINKI FOUNDATION
FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
WARSAW
TRANSLATED FROM POLISH BY GOOGLE TRANSLATE
ECtHR: conviction for defamation violates freedom of expression
Dodane przez: mszuleka

September 18, 2012

The European Court of Human Rights held last week that the conviction of Izabela Lewandowska-Malec for a letter, in which she
had expressed critical opinions about mayor of Świątniki Górne, had violated the applicant’s right to freedom of expression
(Application no. 39660/07).

Izabela Lewandowska-Malec, an assistant professor at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, served as a local councillor in
Świątniki Górne, a town in southern Poland. In her public role she keenly observed the work of the mayor. On numerous
occasions Ms Lewandowska-Malec informed the prosecution service of the irregularities she had noticed in the work of the
Municipality Office. Nevertheless, all investigations of those allegations were eventually discontinued. Finally, in 2004 the applicant
wrote a letter to the Polish Press Agency, in which she stated, among other things, that: “[...] prompts me to say that the mayor is
putting extralegal pressure on that authority [prosecution service]”.

Following the publication of the letter by the PPA, the mayor lodged a private bill of indictment against the applicant. In the course
of the trial the courts requested Ms Lewandowska-Malec to prove the truthfulness of her allegation. The courts failed to consider
her submission that the impugned passage from her letter was a value judgment and not a statement of fact and as such it cannot
be judged in terms of truth or falseness. In 2006 the District Court in Wieliczka found the applicant guilty of defaming the mayor
and ordered her to pay a fine of 7,500 Polish zlotys. It also ordered the applicant to publish the judgment on the website of the
Polish Press Agency. The applicant’s appeal was dismissed by the Circuit Court which found the appeal to be manifestly ill-
founded.

Ms Lewandowska-Malec unsuccessfully requested the Prosecutor General and the Human Rights Defender to file a cassation
appeal in her case. “Ms Lewandowska-Malec has lodged an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights arguing that her
conviction was in breach of her right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 20 of the European Convention on Human
Rights and that the punishment imposed on her was disproportionate”, says Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, a lawyer of the HFHR
representing the applicant.

The ECtHR found that there had been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention. In deciding the case, the Court underlined that the
domestic courts erred in limiting their analysis to a single, isolated passage from the applicant’s letter without taking into account
the documentation submitted by the applicant.


“According to the ECtHR, this statement was made by the applicant in the context of a public debate and by using the impugned
assertion she had referred to the previous official stance of the Municipal Council”, explains Ms Bychawska-Siniarska. She
continues: “Both the applicant and the mayor acted in their roles of local politicians. They should have ‘thicker skin’ and accept
harsher criticism concerning their work done as part of public positions”.

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The Polish state was born in 966 with the baptism of Mieszko I, duke of the Slavic tribe of Polans and founder of the
Piast dynasty. His conversion from paganism to Christianity was Poland's first recorded historical event. By 990,
when Mieszko officially submitted to the authority of the Holy See, he had transformed his country into one of the
strongest powers in Eastern Europe.In the period following its emergence in the 10th century, the Polish nation was
led by a series of strong rulers who created a strong Central European state and integrated Poland into European
culture. Formidable foreign enemies and internal fragmentation eroded this initial structure in the thirteenth century,
but consolidation in the 1300s laid the base for the dominant Polish Kingdom that was to follow. The Jagiellon
dynasty 1385–1569 formed the Polish-Lithuanian union beginning with the Lithuanian grand duke Jogaila. The
partnership proved profitable for the Poles and Lithuanians, who played a dominant role in one of the most powerful
empires in Europe for the next three centuries. The Nihil novi act adopted by the Polish Sejm (parliament) in 1505
transferred most legislative power from the monarch to the Sejm. This event marked the beginning of the period
known as "Nobles' Commonwealth" when the state was ruled by the "free and equal" Polish nobility (szlachta). The
Lublin Union of 1569 established the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as an influential player in European politics
and a vital cultural entity. By the 18th century the nobles' democracy had gradually declined into anarchy, making the
once powerful Commonwealth vulnerable to foreign influence. Eventually the country was partitioned by its neighbors
and erased from the map in 1795. Although the majority of the szlachta were reconciled to the end of the
Commonwealth in 1795, the idea of Polish independence was kept alive by events inside and outside of Poland
throughout the 19th century. Poland's location in the very centre of Europe became especially significant in a period
when both Prussia and Russia were intensely involved in European rivalries and alliances and modern nation states
were established over the entire continent. Poland regained its independence in 1918, but the Second Polish
Republic was destroyed by Germany in the Invasion of Poland at the beginning of the Second World War.
Nonetheless the Polish government in exile never surrendered and managed to contribute significantly to the Allied
victory. Nazi Germany's forces were forced to retreat from Poland as the Soviet Union Red Army advanced, which
led to the creation of People's Republic of Poland, a Soviet satellite state. In October 1978, the Archbishop of
Kraków, Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła, became Pope John Paul II, head of the Roman Catholic Church. Polish
Catholics rejoiced at the elevation of a Pole to the papacy and greeted his June 1979 visit to Poland with an
outpouring of emotion. On 31 August 1980, workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, led by an electrician named
Lech Wałęsa, signed a 21-point agreement with the government that ended their strike. Similar agreements were
signed at Szczecin and in Silesia. The key provision of these agreements was the guarantee of the workers’ right to
form independent trade unions and the right to strike. After the Gdańsk agreement was signed, a new national union
movement "Solidarity" swept Poland .On December 12–13, the regime declared martial law, under which the army
and ZOMO riot police were used to crush the union. Virtually all Solidarity leaders and many affiliated intellectuals
were arrested or detained. The United States and other Western countries responded to martial law by imposing
economic sanctions against the Polish regime and against the Soviet Union. Unrest in Poland continued for several
years thereafter. In a series of slow, uneven steps, the Polish regime rescinded martial law. In December 1982,
martial law was suspended, and a small number of political prisoners were released. Although martial law formally
ended in July 1983 and a general amnesty was enacted, several hundred political prisoners remained in jail. In July
1984, another general amnesty was declared, and two years later, the government had released nearly all political
prisoners. The authorities continued, however, to harass dissidents and Solidarity activists. Solidarity remained
proscribed and its publications banned. Independent publications were censored.  Solidarity, was able to enforce a
peaceful transition from communist state to democracy, which resulted in the creation of the modern Polish state. In
late 1980s the government was forced to negotiate with Solidarity in the Polish Roundtable Negotiations. The Polish
legislative elections, 1989 become one of the important events marking the fall of communism. After 1989 Poland
became one of the newer European democracies and adopted a market-based economy. The shock therapy
Balcerowicz Plan during the early 1990s enabled the country to transform its economy into one of the most robust in
Central Europe. Poland joined NATO on May 27, 1999 and the European Union on May 1, 2004. Over the past
millennium, the territory ruled by Poland has shifted and varied greatly. At one time, in the 16th century, Poland was
the second largest state in Europe, after Russia. At other times there was no separate Polish state at all. Poland
regained its independence in 1918, after more than a century of rule by its neighbours, but its borders shifted again
after the Second World War.
In the current great worldwide economic downturn, triggered and exemplified in
particular by the 2008 USA collapse and bailout of the banking system, the Polish economy has weathered the crisis,
in comparison with many European and other countries, relatively unscathed. Poland's president Lech Kaczyński and
all aboard died in a plane crash on April 10, 2010 in western Russia, near Smolensk. President Kaczyński and other
prominent Poles were on the way to the Katyn massacre anniversary commemoration. Poles hope for historically
unprecedented stability within the European Union. The introduction of the euro currency and its timing are difficult
decisions, given the economic crisis in the eurozone. In the second final round of the Polish presidential election on
July 4, 2010, Bronisław Komorowski, Acting President, Marshal of the Sejm and a Civic Platform politician,
defeated Jarosław Kaczyński by 53% to 47%. The Smolensk tragedy brought into the open deep divisions within
the Polish society and became a destabilizing factor in Poland's politics.

Sources: Wikipedia History of Poland
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Click on flag for Country Report
Waldemar Pawlak
Deputy Prime Minister
since 16 November 2007
TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS
None reported.