Hlegal

Defending human rights

Release of women’s rights activist and no prosecution for protest against COVID-19 measures

On 19 November 2020, the Circuit Court in Warsaw confirmed a first-instance decision rejecting the public prosecutor’s request for a women’s rights activist to be kept in custody pending trial. The activist was arrested during the Women’s Strike protests on 26 October, and charged with armed assault on a police officer and participation in a riot; she was the only protester whom the prosecutor requested to be kept in custody. She was released on 28 October by decision of the court of first instance. This decision has now been confirmed by the Circuit Court, following the prosecutor’s appeal.

Also, on 12 November 2020, the District Court for Warsaw-Center discontinued proceedings against a disabled protester who had been accused of illegally participating in a May 2020 protest against COVID-19 measures and of not observing the required 2 meter distance from others. The Court stated that neither COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings, nor the 2 meter distancing requirement, can be punished as criminal offenses. It also noted that, with respect to public gatherings, in any case only their organization, and not mere participation, is restricted.

The women’s rights activist and the protester were represented pro bono by Agnieszka Helsztyńska (the former together with Agata Bzdyń).