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The Constitutional Role of the Judiciary in Poland Has Been Completely Undermined

The Management Board and the Board of Directors of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the Helsinki Committee in Poland have issued a joint statement regarding the changes in the Polish judiciary.

„Yet again, the decisions of those in legislative and executive power that strike on the courts’ independence (the Constitutional Tribunal and courts of general jurisdiction) have lead the Management Board and the Board of Directors of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the Helsinki Committee in Poland to state that the role of the judiciary in the constitutional model of separation of powers has been destroyed. The borders have been crossed”, says the statement issued yesterday morning.

Joint statement discusses the new Act on the Constitutional Tribunal which is currently being prepared in the Sejm (the lower house of the Polish Parliament). According to the Helsinki Committee and the Mangement Board of the HFHR, „the version of the Act on the Constitutional tribunal from June 29th effectively paralyses that body and transforms it so that its functioning (order of handling the cases and imposing a specific pace of work) becomes dependent on interim, manipulative decisions of the President, General Prosecutor and the Prime Minister. Additionally, introducing the 4 judges veto that postpones hearing the case guarantees constatnt possibility of not hearing the cases inconvenient to the court and the leaders of the ruling party.”

The Helsinki Committe and the Board of the HFHR raise an alarm that such authority is a direct threat to the expertise of the Commissioner for Human Rights as his motions could be permanently blocked. „The personnel of the Tribunal is shaped by the Act in which the already occupied seats are involved which leads to decisions that are permenently unconstitutional”, the statement follows.

„What is done to the Constitutional Tribunal and the personnel that forms the body is ridiculing the rule of law and the state. Simultaneously, other bodies that are formally independent, have come under major pressure”, wrote the signatories of the statement.

In its statement, the Helsinki Committee and the Board of the HFHR refer to the most recent decision of the President of Poland who did not appoint 10 judges who were recommended by the National Council of the Judiciary of Poland. According to the Helsinki Committee and the Board of the HFHR, the fact that those judges were not appointed (as an addition to previous refusal to appoint three legitimately chosen judges of the Tribunal) is another proof of limiting the independence and significance of the judicial authority. This results in influencing the attitude of the personnel of judges and attempting to transforming it into being conformable to executive power and its expectations.

„Underminig the position and independence of judiciary atuthority poses a direct threat to a certain level of protecting human rights and liberties”, reads the statement.

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