Polityka karna wobec cudzoziemców przebywających w Polsce
Penal Policy Toward Foreign Nationals Residing in Poland
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The paper focuses on penal policy, or to be more accurate, on its part related to “the operation of the courts of law with a view to preventing and reducing the crime rate through the application of criminal law,”1 though with regard to a selected group only, i.e. foreign nationals who reside in Poland. In very simple terms, it addresses the policy of punishments and punitive measures pursued with respect to foreign nationals who have committed offences expressly prohibited by Polish criminal law, and were subsequently embraced by a formal system of social supervision. The studies at issue were conducted on the basis of statistical data collected by the Ministry of Justice. They comprise information on the kinds of punishment and punitive measures applied to foreign nationals for committing respective types of criminal offences, as revealed and discovered by Polish justice system throughout the country, in the period spanning 2004–2012. It appears that an 8-year period of scrutiny regarding the application of penal policy to foreign nationals allows for the identification of all attendant key trends, as well as any portents of forthcoming changes. An appraisal of the structure of criminal offences committed by foreign nationals reveals that they fall most frequently (87% in total) within 5 key categories, i.e. 21% of convictions against the credibility of documents, 20% against public order, 18% against the safety of transportation, 15% fraud, 13% against property. Criminal offences falling within the scope of other legislative constraints that serve as the conviction basis against foreign nationals are encountered much less frequently and comprise primarily offences against: human life and health, the justice system, family and family care, sexual freedom, public security, environment, commercial endeavours, and against the Republic of Poland. There are also criminal offences whose characteristics fall within the scope of other legal classifications than those comprised in Polish Criminal Code, usually the following ones: the Polish Fiscal Penal Code of September 10, 1999 (Journal of Laws of 1999, No. 83, Item. 930), the Promotion of Sobriety and Prevention of Alcohol Abuse Act of October 26, 1982 (Journal of Laws of 1982, No. 35, Item. 230), the Health Protection Against the Consequences of Consumption of Tobacco and Tobacco Products Act of November 9, 1995 (Journal of Laws of 1996, No 10, Item 55), and finally, the Industrial Property Act of June 30, 2000 (Journal of Laws of 2001, No. 49, Item 508). The current policy of criminal convictions against foreign nationals does not substantially differ from the general trends in Polish penal policy. By far, most frequently the courts of law opt for a term of imprisonment with conditional suspension of its execution as a penal measure. The next option in line comprises a fine, and then comes an immediate custodial sentence, occasionally a restriction of personal liberty.2 It is clear that the key category of criminal offences for which foreign nationals ended up in Polish prisons were offences against property. In this particular category, most offenders had been convicted in pursuance of the provisions of Article 278 § 1, Polish Penal Code (theft), Article 279 §1, Polish Penal Code (burglary with forced entry), and Article 280 §1, Polish Penal Code (aggravated theft). The legislation in place provides for an opportunity to apply a diversity of punitive measures apart from the penalty itself, also as probation measures, or as preventive measures. The legislators clearly aimed for generally increasing the role and overall significance of punitive measures within the penal policy, although an overall body of convictions meted out against foreign nationals over the years 2004–2012 in Poland demonstrates that the courts of law were not particularly forthcoming in this respect, rather seldom ordering punitive measures against the perpetrators, and if so, they would usually reach out for the option of ordering fines and a driving ban, or a forfeiture of property. Statistical data taking into account the lawfully convicted foreign nationals, stratified by a specific type of criminal offence, gender, and punishment meted out for the principal offence, reveal that in 2005 there was a significant reduction in the number of punitive measures ordered by the courts. In fact, compared with 2004, their number decreased fivefold, and remained approximately at the same level throughout the following four years, whereas in 2010, a penal measure was ordered only once, none in 2011, and in 2012 – twice. The sentencing and penal measures policy pursued by the Polish courts, as addressed in the present study, was assessed not only at the level of statistical data made available by the Ministry of Justice, but also through meticulous research conducted on the court’s case files pertaining to foreign nationals whose cases had lawfully been closed, randomly sampled. Both the sampling methodology applied and the number of the records brought under study makes the results of this research project fully representative. Examination of the court’s case files yielded the results fully consistent with the results obtained on the basis of the statistical data obtained from the ministerial records, including in terms of the actual application of the penal policy against foreign nationals committing criminal offences in Poland, although certain exceptions were encountered with regard to the policies applied to the perpetrators of specific types of criminal offences. On the other hand, though, those seem to have much more in common with a particular type and nature of the offence itself, rather than the fact that it was committed by a foreign national. The conclusions drawn from the statistical data under study, as supplemented by a detailed appraisal of the court records, give sufficient grounds to believe that in its essence, the penal policy applied to foreign nationals residing in Poland does not differ from that applied in Poland at large.
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