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Poland: Civil society raises concerns around restrictions on protests as COP 24 climate negotiations kick off

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Auteur: Amnesty International

"At least 13 staff members and activists of environmental organizations were refused entry to Poland over the weekend during the UN Conference on Climate Change, COP24, held in Katowice. In addition, three staff members of environmental organizations were questioned in their hotels about their IDs by the border police in Katowice. Two of them were arrested and detained for 12 hours...

These actions follow the adoption of a law in January 2018, which banned any spontaneous assemblies during the conference and enhanced surveillance powers. Under the law, the police or other law enforcement authorities can collect and use personal electronic and digital data. Five UN Special Rapporteurs as well as NGOs, including Amnesty International, raised concerns over the impact of the law on the right to freedom of assembly and expression during COP24.

Amnesty International has learned that in multiple cases, the border police accused the environmentalists of being a 'threat to national security'. Poland’s border police denied entries to accredited civil society participants of COP24 talks as well as a member of the official delegation from Georgia."

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Auteur: Katharina Rall, Human Rights Watch

"...Human Rights Watch is aware of at least 13 people whom Polish authorities, over the past week, barred from entering Poland and making their voices heard at the climate change gathering in the city of Katowice.

The ground invoked to deny them entry at the Polish border, at least in some cases, was that the person was considered to pose a threat to public order, internal security, public health, or international relations to one or more members states of the European Union. However, all the NGO representatives had valid visas and UN accreditation. Two of the activists are nationals of European Union countries and entitled to free movement in the EU. Moreover, at least five of the environmental activists who were denied entry were held and questioned at the border for several hours...

 

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Auteur: Chiara Liguori, Amnesty Intl.

"Climate justice clashes with an increasingly intolerant Poland", 30 Nov 2018

[I]n the build up to COP24, environmental activists around the world have been ramping up protests in a bid to pressure their governments into taking drastic action...But there will be few protests outside COP24 itself. Earlier this year the Polish government adopted a bill that prevents activists, NGOs and the general public from holding spontaneous assemblies outside the talks. Demonstrators must notify the city authorities in advance or risk prosecution. The bill also gives police extra powers to put conference participants under enhanced surveillance without their knowledge. Essentially, the Polish authorities can treat COP24 as an opportunity to gather data on NGOs and strengthen their police powers. This comes in the context of an escalating crackdown on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Poland...It is an incredibly dangerous moment to stand up against the destruction of the environment. The bitter irony is that this is exactly the moment when the world needs to hear the voices of all those affected by climate change. We need to hear the perspectives of communities from around the world who are most affected by the effects of heat, drought and floods in their daily lives. Everybody, and especially those most affected, have a stake in what it is being discussed and should be able to express their voices including through peaceful demonstrations. The Polish government is denying these people a seat at the very table where their fate will be decided...Last week the Polish Ministry of Energy published a statement defending the country’s reliance on coal, and argued that raising targets would harm the Polish economy. However, a poll commissioned last year by Greenpeace Poland showed that 74 per cent of Polish people support a shift from coal to renewable energies...

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Auteur: Frontline Defenders

"Front Line Defenders Releases Digital Protection Advice for Activists & Journalists Attending COP-24 in Katowice, Poland"

To help civil society activists, human rights defenders, and journalists attending COP24 in Katowice, Front Line Defenders has today released advice related to digital protection, outlining key security measures that should be taken to enhance the safety of data..."Given the assault on climate change science by right-wing nationalist governments, the green light given to the security forces and police by this law to target civil society and human rights defenders is gravely worrying. Front Line Defenders urges all who will attend the conference and side activities in Katowice to take and use this advice to enable better digital protection.” [said Andrew Anderson, Executive Director of Front Line Defenders]...

In May 2018, UN Special Rapporteurs John Knox, Michel Forst, David Kaye, Clement Nyaletsossi Voule and Joe Cannataci urged the government of Poland to ensure free and full participation at the climate talks. They noted that the legislation “appears to give sweeping surveillance powers to the police and secret services to collect and process personal data about all COP24 participants” and “appears to prevent spontaneous peaceful assemblies in Katowice.”...Front Line Defenders echoes the call of the UN Special Rapporteurs, and urges civil society activists, human rights defenders and journalists to take all necessary precautions outlined in the Digital Security Bulletin.

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Auteur: Chloe Farand, DeSmogUK

The Polish government has implemented a terrorism alert in the province where the annual UN climate talks are about to start. Climate campaigners are warning of a “tense atmosphere” in and around the city of Katowice in southern Poland, where the global climate negotiations, known as COP24, are due to kick off on Monday...In a statement, the government confirmed the heightened security measures had been introduced in connection with COP24 and will remain in force for the entire length of the talks, until December 15...The news comes after...the Polish Parliament approved a bill that banned all spontaneous protests in Katowice during the talks. ..Sébastien Duyck, a senior attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law, told DeSmog UK that there were “strong tensions” around the law...Duyck added that the data collection powers granted to the police under the law had led some climate campaigners from developing countries with no democratic institutions not to attend the conference in Katowice, fearing repercussions in their own countries...The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), a Thailand-based network of feminists and grassroots climate organisations, described the bill as “setting a dangerous precedent” and one that “undermines human rights and fundamental freedoms”...“By closing spaces for voices of the people to come into global platforms like the COP, the profit making exploitative industries and the states continue business as usual at the cost of the planet.”

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