The Halina Nieć Legal Aid Center, (HNLAC) is a non-profit non-governmental organisation established in 2002 in Cracow. HNLAC’s main objective is to protect human rights by providing free legal council to persons at risk of social exclusion and discrimination, including the poor, victims of domestic violence, foreigners, asylum seekers, refugees and the stateless. The HNLAC also monitors the adherence to standards of human rights, undertakes legal interventions and advocacy activities, and pursues research and educational projects. The Center also undertakes activities aimed at preventing and tackling human and child trafficking by organizing social campaigns and offering legal aid to the victims.
We work to protect human rights, first of all by providing free legal assistance to persons at risk of social exclusion and discrimination, especially asylum seekers, refugees, the stateless and foreign victims of human trafficking.
We believe that human rights are universal in nature but persons in dire situations often need additional support in order to be able to enjoy them. Our team is composed mainly of lawyers because we believe that access to free legal aid is a prerequisite to access human rights.
During the 20 years of our existence we provided free legal aid to over 17 000 persons!
Apart from providing free legal aid, the HNLAC also carries out regular monitoring of the adherence to standards of human rights undertakes legal interventions and advocacy activities, and pursues research and educational projects. The Center also undertakes activities aimed at preventing human and child trafficking.
We cooperate with many partners, first and foremost with the UNHCR Representation in Poland. The HNLAC is UNHCR’s implementing partner in Poland since 2003. We also cooperate with the Office for Foreigners, La Strada Foundation against Trafficking in Persons and Slavery and the European Network on Statelessness (ENS).
Is the late Dr. Halina Nieć, lecturer at the Faculty of Law at the Jagiellonian University, human rights activist, the founder of the Human Rights Center at the Jagiellonian University and of the first university legal clinic in Poland. In 2002, on the initiative of her and her students, the NGO was founded, which was, after the death of Dr.Nieć, renamed the Halina Nieć Legal Aid Center to celebrate her memory.
Katarzyna Przybysławska - President of the Board
Magda Pajura - Member of the Board
Marek Przybysławski - Member of the Board
Our team in made up of legal experts, supported by specialists on related matters, who have experience in protection of human rights, preventing discrimination and xenophobia and in intercultural communication. The Centre also cooperates with volunteers.
Since 2003, HNLAC has been an implementing partner of the of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (Representative Office in Poland)
The Center cooperates with the Polish Border Guard and organises annual training for the border guards in refugee law, human rights and intercultural communication
HNLAC provides free legal assistance to the poor and to marginalised people. Since its foundation, the Center has provided assistance to almost 16 000 persons!
The Center, as a watchdog organisation, implements a systematic monitoring of regard for human rights, focusing in particular on the situation of foreigners and persons seeking protection in Poland
The Center is involved in preventing and tackling human trafficking. It provides free legal aid to victims of human trafficking, conducts specialised training for Polish Border Guard, social workers in the refugee centers, and the representatives of the Police, as well as working with the La Strada Foundation Against Human Trafficking and Slavery. The Center organises public awareness campaigns to sensitise the public to human trafficking issue.
The Center actively participated in preparing the landmark document "SOP on SGBV", which was concluded in 2008 between the Head of Office for Foreigners, the Police Commander in Chief, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, La Strada Foundation and HNLAC
The Centre is the laureate of 8th edition of Sergio Vieira de Mello’s (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the years 2002-2003) Polish Prize, for providing free legal assistance to refugees and other foreigners seeking protection from persecution and violating their fundamental rights and for taking initiative in supporting integration and peaceful coexistence and reducing intercultural conflicts.
The President of the Centre, Katarzyna Przybysławska was awarded Gold Cross of Merit by Polish President, Mr.Bronisław Komorowski for prominent contribution in building civil society and achievements in her professional and voluntary work to the State’s benefit.
Qualifying for the final stage of the Province Marshal’s contest for the best non-governmental organizations Salt Crystals 2012
Receiving special award in the 3rd edition of Ministry of Foreign Affairs ' contest, organized as a part of campaign Poland for Everybody,for implementing the project Increasing the Polish Citizens’ Knowledge of the Refugees (6th of December 2013)
In 2019 the President of the Center, Katarzyna Przybysławska received the Paweł Włodkowic award from the Polish Human Rights Ombudsmann. This award is given in recognition of defending fundamental values and truths, even against the opinion and views of the majority.
providing free legal aid, including representation before the authorities;
initiating measures aimed at raising standards for the protection of human and civil rights, and intervening in cases of violations;
initiating activities aimed at improving the standards of justice in Poland;
conducting scientific and educational activities aimed at developing democracy, disseminating and promoting the concept of respecting human rights and the rule of law, and also shaping civil society and promoting a culture of law;
collaboration with national and international organizations which deal with the issues of human rights protection;
promotion and popularization of voluntary services and pro bono work;
activities for integration and professional activation, of foreigners and other groups at risk of social exclusion;
activities supporting the development of communities and local communities;
social assistance, including assistance to families and people in a difficult life situation and equalizing the chances of these families and people;
activities supporting non-governmental organizations (trainings, information and promotion).
Free legal aid for socially marginalised people, whose rights and freedoms are violated; development of democracy; promotion of the concept of respecting human rights and the rule of law, and shaping civil society and promoting the culture of law in Poland.
The Centre does not conduct economic activity, nor public benefit paid work. All of its services are provided free of charge to beneficiaries. The main sources of funding are grants for the implementation of projects such as: EU funds, UNHCR funds, Municipality of Cracow funds, European Network on Statelessness (ENS) funds as well as donations from private persons.
In 2019 the HNLAC activities are financed by UNHCR, Stefan Batory Foundation, ENS and OSIFE.
Our financial and narrative reports can be found on the governmental database of NGO reports accessible here (click!)
In 2018 we have received 17 318 zł as 1% of tax donations!