More than 300 zlotys? A lawsuit for a women’s holiday in Sokołów Podlaski

Agnieszka Jędrzejczyk, Is PLN 300 more or less?

Girl: Very, very much. I don’t have money yet. Moreover, this is very unfair.

Boy: No, that’s not a problem. I have a place to go.

Then why didn’t you give up the punishment, but went to court?

Because I wanted to see how it was in court.

The fourth trial of women in Sokolów

On October 28, 2022, two young girls and a boy took part in the fourth session of the Women’s March in the Sokołów Podlaski District Court.

The girls (who did not want to be named) were the organizers of the protest after the Julia Przyłębska Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling that practically deprived women of the right to decide on abortion, and the boy took part in the march and lit a torch.

Police are demanding a fine of 300 PLN for all three, prosecutor and commissioner Thomas Bartosiak told the court today.

should educate them.

A magnificent march in Sokolov

On October 28, 2020, Sokołowski’s march gathered about a thousand people. At one point, the crowd moved from the sidewalk to the road and chanted vulgar slogans, including “Fuck PiS,” according to police. From December 2021, he heard the testimony of the accused and witnesses in court, ie the police who were supposed to provide the march.

They showed that the police really ignored the two girls who came to the police station saying that they had organized a march. The march of the police was very small and the crowd was furious. But nothing bad happened. People chanted slogans and released their emotions, and when they left, they left only one lane.

The final statement was due today, but a police witness claimed that Pilada was on a long-term training course and could only testify in July. Therefore, the court read his explanations from the trial and closed the trial on the evidence.

In the spotlight

Then, in October 2020, the organizers of the action and the police said goodbye, thanking each other for their cooperation. But nine months later, the case was taken to court at the initiative of the police.

The organizers of the rally were accused of violating three rules: the obligation to wear a mask during a pandemic, making indecent shouts and blocking the road.

At the same time, in the autumn of 2021, many such cases across the country were brought to court by the police. The penalties should not have been severe (although, as we have seen, the severity of the fine is relative). However, they had to hinder future public activities. Therefore, a call to the police, and then a long trial. The need to face the police in a small town where people know each other well.

We describe these issues in our TARGETING series. The material collected has shown us that this behavior of the government has all the characteristics of SLAPP – the Strategic Claim Against Public Participation, ie the practice of using legal procedures to dissuade activists and journalists from engaging in unfavorable topics. .

In Poland – unlike in the West – we are dealing mainly with petty offenses and activists’ madness funded by the state media and public money. There are also terribly high-profile civil cases, but they do not determine the extent of the government’s pressure on civil society.

Because they did not have masks

The first accusation against the organizers of the protest in Sokolov is unfounded, said Deputy Commissioner Bartosiak. We are talking about the lack of masks (TK Przyłębska ruled in the second wave of the covid pandemic).

In October 2020, there was no legal basis for forcing citizens to wear masks. Authorities were aware of this at least since May, but on October 28, the day of the Sokolov protests, the Seimas passed regulations. They came into force a month later.

  • Anyone violating the rules of conduct in public places permitted by law is punishable by a fine or reprimand of up to 500 PLN.

Since 2020, many cases have been filed in the courts for masks, and the courts have acquitted most people. However, there have been cases of trial and sentencing (ie without trial). It was then that the Ombudsman intervened and appealed to the Supreme Court.

The latter made it clear that the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution could not be restricted by a government decision and that punishment was being suppressed.

As for the next two charges, the defense attorney for the accused girls, lawyer Pavel Schroed, claimed:

The constitution provides citizens with freedom of expression and assembly. This can only be limited by law. Police did not find any violations of the Law on Assemblies on October 28, 2020 in Sokolov.

Because they were scandalous

  • A person who disturbs public order, night rest or causes a scandal by shouting, making noise, sounding an alarm or other confusion in a public place shall be punished by arrest, restriction of liberty or a fine.

Here, the lawyer noted that in order to make such an accusation, it is necessary to have victims. Someone had to complain before the accused’s actions caused him a scandal. There is no trace of him. Even the testimony of the police shows that the observers of the rally, including the drivers, supported his postulates instead of making a fuss.

In addition, the slogan “Fuck PiS” is not as vulgar as experts claim – it reflects the emotional state of citizens who have lost their basic rights without dispute, without listening to their reasons.

And finally – there is no evidence that the person who shouted the slogan “Fuck PiS” is the accused. They themselves testified that they did not do so because they did not want their protests to contain slogans that would turn the elders away from the demands of the youth.

Because they set out

As for the accusation of obstructing traffic (the march did not fit on the sidewalk), the protesters did not stop traffic. Witnesses and police themselves testified that the protest took only one strip when the protest was set out. True, as Art requires. 12 of the Law on Traffic.

  • The pedestrian crossing can only move on the right side of the road, except for pedestrians under the age of 10.

  • A person who obstructs or impedes the movement of traffic on a public road or residential area shall be punished by a fine or a fine.

The defense attorney said that if someone went into the left lane for a moment, obstructing the movement of the car, there were more police officers trying to control the march. Maybe he has some participants – but we don’t know who he is. Of course, the accused did not do that. Witnesses said they turned to the right after the crowd left.

They cannot be blamed for someone else’s mistakes.

The defense demanded an acquittal.

As for the fights, lawyer Shroda said that the court could determine whether they were really dangerous based on their labels. Remains of the torch were included in the work materials. A child accused of using torches asked for a lighter sentence.

The court will rule in a week.

“Everything is very unfair,” the girls say. “How will they condemn us …”

“We will cancel,” the lawyer replied. On Wednesday.

Or Lord, what do you think about abortion? – I ask the boy.

“I stay away from such things.”

What about pregnancy if you have to make a decision in your environment?

“And this? Of course, it is the woman who decides.

“The worst thing is that there is no decent sex education in school,” the girls say.

“Na targowniku” is a pilot project of, Osiatyński Archive. In 2021, we were supported by the Norwegian Rafto Foundation (Torolf Rafto was a Norwegian human rights activist who dedicated his life to Central Europe). We are now supported by the American-German Marshall Fund.

Coordination – Anna Wójcik, Piotr Pacewicz, Agnieszka Jędrzejczyk

Agnieszka Jędrzejczyk
Agnieszka Jędrzejczyk

Historian by education. From 1989 to 2011 he was a parliamentary correspondent, then editor of the Gazette Wyborcza, until December 2015 – in the government administration (drafting a new act on the collection of public funds and in a short time – changing the rules of public consultation) teams). ). In the Office of Human Rights Defender until July 2021.

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