• August 8, 2014
  • 91

Important not “if” but “how” to remove Polish boards

The court demands the removal of boards with Polish street names, but it cannot explain how local administrators in the Vilnius are supposed do it without infringing the inviolability of private property.

The reason of refusal of the explanation seems to be formal. The court questioned the wording “if” in the proposal and rejected it. In explaining the dismissal it was stated that if instead of “if” was used a question mark ‘how’, the application would be considered and the college of judges would come at the decision in that issue.

“After considering the application the college of judges of the Administrative District Court of Vilnius has come to the conclusion that asking for an interpretation of the judgment of the Administrative District Court in Vilnius, dated 24 November 2010, the director of the Vilnius Region of local government administration has aspired not for the part of the ruling to be explained in the the verbal form, but she expressed doubt whether decided by the court commitment must be carried out by her “- we read in Thursday’s (August 28)  statement of the Administrative District Court in Vilnius.

Translated from the legal language, it means that the director of the Vilnius region administration Lucyna Kotłowska asking the court to clarify the statement from 2010 instead of asking the Lithuanian Themis, “how” to perform the judgment if she does not have the legal mechanisms for its implementation, asked the college judges “if” she must carry out the decision of the court, if she does not have the legal mechanisms for its implementation.

In Thursday’s statement it is also stated that the court would examine Kotłowska’s arguments concerning the inability to enforce the court’s judgment to remove Polish boards, if the director of administration would put forward a motion to change the mode of carring out that decision.

“However, the director of local government district of Vilnius did not asked the court for it, and indicated in her proposal arguments concerning inability to enforce the judgment which did not have legal significance so the application was rejected due to lack of its reasoning” – decided to Vilnius court.

The director of Administration Lucyna Kotłowska asked the court about the statement of 2010, according to which she was obliged to dispose from administrative buildings public and private bilingual boards with Lithuanian and Polish street names and replace them with the names of boards only in Lithuanian. The administration of local government applied to the judgment mainly for public buildings. However, the problem arose with the removal of Polish boards on private homes. Their owners categorically refused, because as they said, they had put them in there for their own money and they would not allow to take them off. Therefore, the  Local administration is questioning whether, colloquially speaking, they have the right to remove the private property from private properties. What is more, their owners are not even a side in the judicial process in which the judgment of removing the boards was made. Therefore, Kotłowska in her application has just asked if she has to perform the judgment of the court in the case of private property, or if it should be done by the bailiff, who should enforce the statements from the office?

In her application Kotłowski also drew attention to the important in her opinion, but “irrelevant” to the court the legal circumstance. The idea is that after a court statement about removing the Polish names the legal regulation of the topographic street marking has been changed. The Government’s statement which went into effect  until 2011, changed the regulation of the Minister of Internal Affairs of regulating the broadcasting of the names to streets and their marking. These regulations specify that the streets are marked on their beginning, possibly at an intermediate point (for example, the intersection) and at the end point. The board with the name of the street in the state language shall be placed on free-standing poles ​​in the established places. The institution responsible for the implementation of this regulation is the administration of the local government, in this case the Director of Administration in Vilnius region. In the light of this regulation, the names of the street are  set on the boards on the free-standing poles, and boards on private properties actually are not even the object of legal restrictions in naming streets.

However, according to the office of the governor in the Vilnius district, who calls for the removal of Polish boards from private homes, the law is not needed for their removal because “just desire”  is enough.

“I believe that in many cases is needed only a desire to take off the boards from most of the private houses” – said Rokas Jonika, the office of  the governor of the government after the announcement of Thursday’s court decision. He believes that taking off these boards is the responsibility of local government administration and in the case of opposition of owners of the private properties the administration should make use of the police and bailiffs to enforce local administrators to comply with the challenged decisions about boards.

Previously, we informed our readers about the thousands of litas fine, which the former district administrator Boleslaw Daszkiewich had already paid to bailiffs for failing to remove boards from private homes. Also, his successor on the post – Józef Rybak may be punished by a fine, which may cost him  several hundred thousand litas.

In a similar to her colleagues situation is also Lucyna Kotłowska against who the governor of the government filed two lawsuits to the court. In both cases, the courts decided in favour of the Polish women. The director of administration still cannot wait for the courts to interpret whatever “if” or “how” she has to perform a court statement. However, she finally got the statement (also at the request of the governor of the government) according to which she  is punished with a ​​fine “for failure to” statements. In the first case the bailiffs charge Kotłowska with 10 litas fine for each day of delay (the sum has already reached 2 000 litas). In the second case Kotłowska must pay a fixed fine  6 000 litas.

Translated by Katarzyna Ratajek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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