Key facts of the case:
In 2009, the Parliament adopted the amendments to the Act on pensions for functionaries of the Police, Internal Security Agency, Intelligence Agency, Military Counterintelligence Agency, Border Guard, Office of the Protection of the Government, State Fire Brigades and Prison Service (hereinafter Act of 2009). The Act of 2009 introduced amendments to the law on pensions of professional soldiers, the Police and state security service. As a result of this legislation, a less favorable co-efficient was used for the determination of their pensions insofar as they had been acquired through employment in the communist state security authorities in 1944-1990. The preamble of the Act stated, among others, that employment in services of the communist state security authorities was „inextricably linked with violations of human and civil rights committed in the name of the communist totalitarian regime.” The Act only provided an automatic procedure of deducting the pensions without, however, any assessment of the individual circumstances in each case.
In 2010, the Constitutional Court ruled that the provisions of the Act of 2009 were in compliance with the Constitution. In 2013, the European Court of Human Rights considered numerous cases submitted in this regard. The ECHR ruled that the applications were inadmissible.
In 2009, after the Act of 2009 came into force, the pension of R.P. was reduced on the basis of the decision of the pension authority, which was the Director of the Pension Department in the Ministry of the Interior. Since, as it was stated above, the procedure did not include any verification of the individual circumstances of the case, the fact that R.P. positively underwent the process of verification in 1990 during the transition, did not matter in the authority’s decision making. R.P. appealed against this decision to the court.
Outcome of the case:
Acknowledging the direct result of the fundamental rights of the European Union and their priority in the domestic legal system, the Court analysed the provisions of the Act of 2009 in the light of the fundamental rights of the European Union which were: the principle of human dignity, the rule of law, the rule of law perceived in the context of the certainty of law and citizens’ trust to the state and its own legislation, the principle of equality and non-discrimination, the right to a fair trial, the right to property and the rule of proportionality. The Court found that the Act of 2009 violates the fundamental rights and principles of the European Union. However, the judgement was issued by the court of the first instance and it is not final yet.
“Article 1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights describes this right (right to dignity – ed.) as inviolable. The human dignity is inviolable, should be protected and respected. In this way the Charter makes a reference to common constitutional traditions of the Member States, including Poland, and international human rights law, in light of which inviolable human dignity is an axiological fundament for the entire system of human rights protection.
The right guaranteed by Article 1 of the Charter has a dualistic nature, since human dignity interpreted in the light of Article 1 is also a principle, so the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 1 has a character of both a right and a principle”.
„Z kolei art. 1 Karty praw podstawowych (KPP) wprost określa to prawo jako nienaruszalne. Godność człowieka jest nienaruszalna, podlega ochronie i poszanowaniu. W ten sposób Karta nawiązuje do wspólnych tradycji konstytucyjnych państw członkowskich, w tym również Polski, oraz międzynarodowego prawa praw człowieka, w świetle których nienaruszalna godność człowieka stanowi podstawę aksjologiczną systemu ochrony praw człowieka.
Prawo gwarantowane art.1 KPP ma przy tym dwoistą naturę, bowiem z jednej i godność człowieka w rozumieniu art. 1 KPP jest także zasadą, zatem prawo podstawowe gwarantowane art. 1 KPP ma charakter prawa -zasady.”