Polish tribunal to examine EU treaty on violence against women - PM

Morawiecki noted that there are many serious accusations in the public discussion against the Istanbul Convention. Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday he would ask the Constitutional Tribunal to examine whether the Istanbul Convention on combatting domestic violence is in line with the Polish constitution.

Morawiecki noted that there are many serious accusations in the public discussion against the Istanbul Convention, namely that it violates Poland's legal order, has an ideological basis, incorrectly defines the real sources of violence against women and does not provide effective tools in the fight against domestic violence.

As he noted, "these are very serious doubts (...) that cannot be passed over."

The prime minister added that the Polish government partially shares these concerns. It also has a right to consider the document as inconsistent with the constitution in terms of the impartiality of the state regarding world views and the right of parents to raise children in accordance with their conscience.

"That is why I decided to submit my application to the Constitutional Tribunal to verify the compliance of the Istanbul Convention with the (Polish - PAP) constitution," Morawiecki said.

Earlier this week, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro asked the Labour Ministry to begin the process of withdrawing Poland from the treaty, arguing it imposes certain ideologies on the country.

Morawiecki was also quick to dispel the idea that Poland was showing that it was not acting in the interests of those affected by domestic violence. He pointed out that the ruling United Right, using all its powers, implements various tasks and activities aimed at preventing domestic violence and, where violence occurs, offers a support system for victims of the crime.

Morawiecki said that the government implemented the anti-violence law and had significantly expanded the network of support centres for victims of violence. "It is a network that is actually used by dozens, hundreds of people a month," said the PM. He added that this support network was being expanded because it was needed and it was the best proof that "we approach this topic very seriously."

The Polish PM also voiced his concern against manipulations which imply that any movement questioning parts of the Istanbul Convention implies consent to violence and said that "such outrageous and unacceptable manipulation should disappear from public debate."

"Our constitution contains a series of values that need to be protected, which are the foundation of our political, national and social community to which we can all appeal. I believe that the constitutional review procedure will cut through this dispute, once and for all, on the basis of our common values enshrined in the constitution." said Morawiecki at Thursday's press conference.

At the press conference Morawiecki added that protection against violence and helping victims of violence cannot be fully effective, "if one chooses ideology over real cures for real sources of violence." "And such a risk occurs in the case of the aforementioned Istanbul Convention," assessed the Prime Minister.

"Even if the (Istanbul - PAP) convention turns out to be inconsistent with Polish law, which will be decided by the Constitutional Tribunal or, partially, to some extent inconsistent, we have been successfully strengthening the position of victims of domestic violence for several years (...). And we will continue to do so, we will look all the way through for the best practices if any have not yet been implemented in this regard, because Polish women, women in particular, and children who are the most frequent victims of domestic violence, must be protected by a strong law," said the Prime Minister, and assured that the government "supports severe punishment of all perpetrators of domestic violence and any other (forms of violence - PAP)."

The application to the Constitutional Tribunal to review the compliance of the Istanbul Convention with the Polish Constitution also includes the question of whether the word 'gender' has been properly translated into the Polish language. The PM said that in his application to the Constitutional Tribunal there is a question about the correct interpretation and translation of the word 'gender,' which has been translated into Polish as a socio-cultural gender. "If this is a source of some concern, this matter is worth clarifying, but this is not the only question," said Morawiecki.

"Besides, I am also an opponent of the ideological revolution. I am a supporter of parents having the right to raise their children in accordance with their beliefs, that various odd ideologies aiming at ideological rattling of our ship that sails on the world's oceans, so as not to give such opportunities to various ideological revolutions. That is why it is worth explaining various issues," said Morawiecki.

The case of the Istanbul Convention "is an extremely important issue, not political, ideological, but real in society." "The protection of victims of violence and prevention of domestic violence is the main and only reason for our actions," said the head of government.

The PM also stressed that in the field of counteracting domestic violence "it is worth acting on in the international arena." Therefore the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs received "a clear task" from him regarding cooperation with other countries in developing appropriate provisions "that would not be saturated with content and worldview doubts" related to "a moral revolution that others want to impose on us."

According to the head of government, the new provisions are to be "a common denominator of several, a dozen or several dozen countries" regarding the protection of victims of domestic violence. "There are many countries, including European countries, that have not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention," stressed the prime minister. He mentioned Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, and Latvia. He explained that he noted those countries "to those who would like to warm up the atmosphere of discussion around the issue that requires calm and decisive, real action", and that is "what Poland is doing."