Poland: ICJ intervenes before European Court in case of surveillance of lawyers and human rights defenders

The ICJ intervened today in the case of the potential surveillance by Polish secret services of Mikołaj Pietrzak, lawyer and chair of the Warsaw Bar Association, Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska et Barbara Grabowska-Moroz of the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights, and Wojciech Klicki and Katarzyna Szymielewicz of the foundation Panoptykon.

The five applicants applied to the European Court of Human Rights claiming a violation of their rights to privacy and to an effective remedy because the system of secret surveillance and collection of metadata created by the Law amending the Law of the Police of 15 January 2016 and the Anti-Terrorism Law of 16 June 2016 does not provide sufficient guarantees for this rights’ protection.

In its third party intervention, the ICJ addressed (1) the application of the principles of prescription by law, necessity and proportionality, in circumstances when mass and targeted surveillance interferes with the right to respect for private life under Article 8 ECHR, in particular when it affects lawyers and human rights defenders; (2) the obligations of States under Article 8 and 6 ECHR to ensure respect for the confidentiality of lawyer-client relations and the principle of legal professional privilege.

The ICJ argued that secret surveillance, in particular where it interferes with the confidentiality of communications of lawyers and human rights defenders, and endangers lawyer-client privilege protected under Articles 8 and 6 ECHR, should be subject to specific safeguards and to particularly strict scrutiny of its necessity and proportionality.

The third party intervention can be found here: PIetrzak&HF_v_Poland-AmicusCuriae-ECtHR-Cases-2020-ENG

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