Regulation of Rights and Freedoms in the Polish Constitution
The Constitution of the Republic of Poland enshrines a sizeable list of the rights and freedoms of an individual, which is itemized in Chapter II, immediately following the general principles. The emphasis on these questions in the Constitution's systematics proves the great importance attached to them by the constitutional legislator. Chapter II of the Constitution starts with the three guiding principles, i.e. the principles of dignity, equality and freedom. An inherent and inalienable human dignity is identified as the source of the individual's rights and freedoms. It does not, however, make these freedoms absolute, because almost all constitutional rights and freedoms may be restricted by the public authorities, subject to the conditions identified in Art. 31 para. 3 of the Constitution. The restrictions can be introduced only in statutes and only to the extent to which they are necessary in a democratic state for the protection of security and the public order, the natural environment, health, public morals, and the rights and freedoms of other persons. However, these restrictions cannot violate the essence of such rights and freedoms. The rights and freedoms of an individual are worded in the Constitution in various ways. Some provisions state that a given person ‘shall have the right,’ and in others legal protection is accorded to specific interests of an individual, such as his work or property. Other provisions protect a certain freedom without naming the person who enjoys it, using the following expressions ‘freedom (…) shall be ensured’ (e.g. Art. 49, Art. 50, Art. 61 para. 1, Art. 62 para. 1) or ‘the Republic of Poland shall ensure protection’ (Art. 38, Art. 72 para. 1). Yet another group of constitutional provisions place emphasis on the universality of certain freedoms, with the expression ‘freedom shall be ensured to everyone’ (e.g. Art. 52 para. 1, Art. 53 para. 1, Art. 54 para. 1, Art. 57). However, none of these kinds of provisions have given rise to any major problems in decoding constitutional rights and freedoms.
But such problems have arisen with respect to some of the provisions in the subchapter on ‘Economic, Social and Cultural Freedoms and Rights,’ which generally do not expressly mention any rights or freedoms of the individual, but rather, address the state's obligations.