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Report: Constitutional crisis in Poland, 2015-2016

Since its emergence in 2015, the constitutional crisis has been a major risk to human rights, the rule of law and the trias politica principle, warns the HFHR’s report “The constitutional crisis in Poland, 2015-2016”, which has been published today.

There are two dimensions of the ongoing constitutional crisis. The first one concerns the appointment of the new judges of the Constitutional Tribunal while the other relates to the legal changes capable of paralysing Constitutional Tribunal’s works.

The report presents how the crisis unveiled, from the enactment of the transitional provision in a law from June 2015 that enabled the previous parliamentary majority to appoint five judges at once, to the last Tribunal’s judgment from August 2016. In the period of twelve months, the Sejm adopted two amendments to the Constitutional Tribunal Act and two brand new Acts regulating Poland’s constitutional court. “None of the legislative reforms concerning the Constitutional Tribunal effected from November 2015 has made the slightest contribution to the resolution of the constitutional crisis”, says Małgorzata Szuleka, an author of the report.

The dispute that initially could have been resolved by the application of legal procedures has since morphed into a major threat to the functioning of Poland and a democratic state ruled by law”, says another report’s author, Marcin Szwed.

The report also describes reactions of the international community, and also a domestic response to the changes. “Our report is based on press articles, opinions, expert commentaries and other documents from the public domain. In order to present the climate in which the crisis developed, we quoted politicians’ statements made in parliamentary debates”, the report’s co-author Marcin Wolny says.

To view the report, use this link.

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