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Venice Commission on situation in Poland

“The Venice Commission is indeed following developments in Poland attentively and with concern”, reads the response of the Venice Commission to a letter sent by nine Polish organisations.

“For the moment we hope and expect that the issues can be resolved on the basis of the decisions taken or to be taken by the Constitutional Tribunal”, wrote Gianni Buquicchio, Chair of the Venice Commission.

Mr Buquicchio recalled the statement of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, dated 4 December 2015, in which the Secretary General stated that “there has been a controversy about the appointment of constitutional judges in Poland recently. I welcome yesterday’s decision [decision of 3 December 2015 – editor’s note] by the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland which clarifies the legal and constitutional situation.” The Secretary General reminded that the Tribunal’s judgment needed to be “fully implemented in all its aspects”.

In the letter sent to the Venice Commission, the nine organisations presented the manner in which subsequent changes to the Constitutional Tribunal’s composition had been made. It further points to a number of crucial considerations resulting from the changes, including the question of whether the President could legally refrain from taking the affirmation of the judges appointed in October 2015 whose terms started in November 2015 and the question of whether the Sejm has the power to re-elect judges contrary to the provisions of a law, solely on the basis of the Sejm’s internal regulations.

The response of the Venice Commission may be read here.

Moreover, the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has decided to invite the head of the Polish Delegation to take part in the upcoming Committee’s session in order to “exchange views on the recent developments concerning the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland”.

The Monitoring Committee is responsible for verifying whether Council of Europe’s member States fulfil their membership obligations, including those resulting from the Statute of the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights. Currently, nine states of the Council of Europe is subject to the monitoring procedure.

The next session of the Monitoring Committee is scheduled to take place on 25-29 January 2016 in Strasbourg.

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