Helsinki Human Rights Foundation
Since 2007, GESSEL is proud to work with the Helsinki Human Rights Foundation within the context of its Strategic Litigation Programme, with our lawyers representing the Foundation in court cases of especial significance to protection of human rights in Poland. Together, we try to win groundbreaking court rulings remedying past practice or influencing future legislation in such fundamental areas as human dignity, equality, and freedom. We support, or have supported, the Helsinki Human Rights Foundation in the following cases:
1. Jolanta Kramarz vs Carrefour Polska Sp. z o.o., case for violation of legally protected personal interests
In 2008, Aleksander Woźnicki of GESSEL represented before the District Court in Warsaw Ms Jolanta Kramarz, a blind woman who was refused admission to a Carrefour supermarket on the grounds that she sought to enter with a guide dog. This case – in its essence, about safeguarding the rights of disabled persons and counteracting discrimination on grounds of disability – was the first of its kind in Poland. The case was concluded in a settlement under which the defendant made a donation to a charity dedicated to helping disabled persons and amended its policy concerning admission of guide animals. The case furthermore provided impetus for legislative changes, with the effect that disabled persons with service animals can now be assured of access to public facilities.
2. The case of Mr Robert Rewiński, a “Gazeta Wyborcza” journalist temporarily remanded without legal basis
Aleksander Woźnicki and GESSEL’s litigation department are preparing on behalf of Mr Robert Rewiński a statement of claim against the Polish state. Mr Rewiński was held in remand for another seven days following issue of a court decision quashing his temporary arrest warrant in a case alleging libel against a local council member. The fact that Mr Rewiński was held without legal basis was associated with the fact that applicable laws permit release of an individual from custody only upon service of the original decision waiving the temporary arrest on the penal institution’s officers; in this case, service of the document took seven days. “The possibility of factual incarceration despite issue of a decision waiving the temporary remand warrant undermines the trust of citizens in the state and, thus, violates the principles enshrined in art 2 of the Constitution” (Helsinki Human Rights Foundation Bulletin, April 2009)