The Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw has ordered the Office for Foreigners to remove the President of the Open Dialogue Foundation, Lyudmyla Kozlovska, from the register of foreigners whose residence on the territory of Poland is undesirable.
“From our point of view, this is a precedent-setting ruling. For the first time, the court has not only overturned the decisions of the Voivode of Mazowieckie and the head of the Office for Foreigners, but has actually ordered that my wife’s ban on entering Poland be lifted. This is bitter justice – after six years of struggle. The administrative courts have already ruled five times that the evidence collected and kept secret by the Internal Security Agency is not worth much, to put it mildly,” says Bartosz Kramek, who is the husband of Lyudmyla Kozlovska, with whom he co-directs the Open Dialogue Foundation. They are committed to defending human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Poland and Eastern European countries.
What will the Office for Foreigners do now?
The ruling by the Provincial Administrative Court (WSA) in Warsaw could put an end to Lyudmyla Kozlovska’s legal battle for the right to stay in Poland. The court ordered the head of the Office for Foreigners to immediately remove her name from the register of foreigners whose residence on the territory of Poland is undesirable and issue the activist with a certificate to that effect. The ruling is not yet final, as the Office for Foreigners has 30 days to appeal. However, Kozlovska hopes that, this time, the verdict will be accepted and the case will have a positive outcome.
“I hope that in the new political situation, the administrative authorities will comply with the court’s verdict and end the malicious political persecution of activists. And that the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration, Marcin Kierwiński, will soon change the leadership of the Office for Foreigners, one of the many institutions closely subordinated to the interests of the previous ruling party,” she says. It is currently headed by Jarosław Szajner, who was nominated for the post by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in 2019.
Activists targeted by the Law and Justice party
Kozlovska’s case has its origins in events dating to 2017. Since then, the activist, the Foundation and its employees have been targeted by the services, and by Law and Justice politicians and the media that support them. At the time, Bartosz Kramek published a piece entitled “Let the State Come to a Stop: Let’s Shut Down the Government!” during the mass public protests against the government’s laws on the Supreme Court, the National Council of the Judiciary and the common courts. Citing the experience of the Ukrainian Maidan, Kramek recommended civil resistance – from general strikes to a tent city in front of Jarosław Kaczyński’s house. In August 2018, the President of the Open Dialogue Foundation was listed in the Schengen Information System by the head of the Internal Security Agency and marked with the highest alert. “I was thrown out of Poland at the personal request of Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik, who controlled the Polish services,” is what Kozlovska says today about those events. The pro-democracy activist, who holds a Ukrainian passport, was banned from entering most European Union countries, including Poland. She only found out about the ban when she landed at Brussels airport on her way back from Kyiv.
Since then, Kozlovska has been fighting to regain her rights, seeing the whole case as politically motivated harassment. More and more European countries have sided with the activist, granting her the right to remain on their territory. Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland, among others, made such decisions. “In doing so, they signalled that they do not agree with the use of international legal instruments to persecute someone whom the authorities of a particular country consider to be an inconvenient person. This is a modus operandi that has been tried many times by Russia, which has used Interpol’s international Red Notices against its political opponents,” the activist told us.
In the end, the data of ODF’s President was removed from the Schengen Information System. Lyudmyla Kozlovska’s record had to be removed by the Polish authorities. But she was still not allowed to enter Poland – and that is still the case today.
The story continued its Kafkaesque unfolding – Kozlovska was never told the reasons for the Internal Security Agency’s decision in her case, which made it difficult for her to defend herself. The documents are secret. As the activist told Wyborcza, she knows off the record that the basis is a two-page service report based on propaganda and fake news from Moldova, Kazakhstan and Russia.
The case has been brought before the Provincial Administrative Court several times. Despite successive rulings in favour of the Ukrainian activist, the head of the Office for Foreigners kept Kozlovska’s name on the register of foreigners whose residence on the territory of Poland is undesirable. He argued that he had received new secret information indicating that considerations of national security justified keeping Lyudmyla Kozlovska’s data on the list.
The situation was not changed a year ago by the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court that overturned the decisions regarding her case by, among others, the head of the Office for Foreigners, stressing that the secret and public material collected on her did not allow the conclusion to be drawn that Lyudmyla Kozlovska posed a threat to state security.
This has now been confirmed by the Provincial Administrative Court in the capital city. “The court found that Lyudmyla Kozlovska had not, at any time during her stay in Poland or the Schengen area, taken any action that could lead to the assumption that she posed a threat to the security of the Republic of Poland or any other state of the European Union,” said the activist’s lawyer, att. Joanna Koch.
Kramek: Commission on political persecution needed
The Open Dialogue Foundation hopes that, in the new political reality, the issue of rehabilitation of those persecuted and harassed by the previous authorities will be taken up. “Not only was my husband wronged, but also Marta Lempart and other Women’s Strike activists, Paweł Wojtunik and several other heads of special services or inconvenient managers and entrepreneurs such as Jakub Karnowski, Przemysław Krych, Piotr Osiecki or Maciej Witucki. Also, local government activists, KO politicians and many others,” says Kozlovska.
Bartosz Kramek believes that the Sejm should set up a commission to investigate political persecution during the Law and Justice era. “The Pegasus case and the surveillance of the opposition is just one thread. The prosecutor’s office, the police, the secret services, the regime’s ‘media’ and even the Border Guard, the Office for Foreigners and state-owned companies were involved. Hundreds and thousands of people have been attacked since 2015, and many trials are still ongoing. It is clear that decisive changes in the prosecutor’s office are needed and should be implemented as soon as possible,” says the activist.
In other media:
- Notes From Poland: Court overturns Ukrainian NGO head’s Poland entry ban introduced by former government (January 5, 2024)
- Wprost: Court handed down a judgement in Lyudmyla Kozlovska’s case (January 5, 2024)
- Onet: Lyudmyla Kozlovska has the right to stay in Poland. Landmark judgment of the administrative court (January 4, 2024)
- OKO.press: PAC: Lyudmyla Kozlovska no longer an undesirable (January 4, 2024)