Thursday

24th Jan 2019

European experts to probe Polish police law

The Venice Commission is travelling to Poland again.

The commission, a body of experts on constitutional law from the human rights watchdog Council of Europe, will visit on Thursday and Friday (28 and 29 April) to gather information on a police law adopted on 15 January.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The updated police law is known in Poland as the “act of surveillance”.

Critics say it gives the police too much access to read and record people’s phone and internet data, and even standard mail.

The police also get extended rights to record video and audio in buildings and on public transport. They do not have to inform those investigated or ask courts for authorisation.

Ombudsman Adam Bodnar, Poland’s official human rights defender, asked Poland’s constitutional court for an opinion.

The delegation will meet with parliamentarians as well as representatives of the prosecutor's office, the ministries of justice and home affairs, the ombudsman and NGOs.

Council of Europe spokesman Panos Kakaviatos said the visit was of a technical nature and would form the basis of an opinion to be discussed in June, at the Council’s next plenary session.

Judicial dispute

The Polish government, led by the right-wing Law and Justice Party, has already been criticised by the Venice Commission and European Commission over its attempts to overhaul the constitutional court.

The government tried to install loyalist judges and change the rules that govern the court's verdicts.

The constitutional court refused to recognise the reforms, and the government has said it will not publish its decisions in the legal gazette.

On Tuesday, Poland’s supreme court weighed into the debate on the side of the constitutional court, saying it will respect the court's judgments whether or not they are published in the gazette.

Supreme court spokesman Dariusz Swiecki said it was a cue for lower Polish courts to follow.

Law and Justice spokeswoman Beata Mazurek insisted that rulings were not valid unless they were published by the government.

She angered critics by saying that the supreme court’s statement was of little importance.

“In reality, it was a meeting of pals that defend the status quo of the previous powers”, she stated.

Law and Justice claimed the constitutional court needed to be reformed because it was filled with appointees from the previous government.

Dispute 'becoming a war'

Mazurek said the government would appoint a committee of experts to oversee another review of the law regulating the constitutional court. Her party claims this will solve the dispute around the court.

It remains unclear whether courts will follow the supreme court’s advice. It also failed to calm some of those who worry about the risk of a duality of laws in Poland.

Journalist Michal Szuldrzynski wrote in a comment in the Rzeczpospolita daily that the supreme court's intervention was well-meaning, but it would not change the fact that the government and parliamentary majority do not recognise the constitutional court’s judgments.

“It’s not the case that Law and Justice politicians lack arguments in this conflict,” he wrote.

“Some lawyers share their arguments, not only for political reasons. The substance is that this conflict is turning into a war … and this war is ruining the Polish state.”

Poland's constitutional dispute escalates

Activists have begun camping outside the prime minister's office in Warsaw after the government refused to recognise a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal.

Polish government promises constitutional reform

As Poland celebrates Constitution Day, the president says the current basic law should better reflect "modernity", amid a bitter fight over his party's attempts to reform the constitutional court.

Germany led way on EU rights protection

Germany led the way on protection of human rights this year, but Hungary, Italy, and Poland "undermined the EU's moral standing" on the world stage, a leading NGO said.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs to grill Deutsche Bank over money laundering
  2. Greek parliament to vote on Macedonia name deal
  3. Media cut ties to reporter who plagiarised EU stories
  4. Cyprus to host southern EU summit next week
  5. 'Yellow Vest' protesters to run list in EU elections
  6. Barnier: No-deal preparations 'more important than ever'
  7. Commission offers no-deal Brexit help to EU fisheries
  8. OECD: France and Belgium top social spending

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. EU: Italy's choice to end or continue Operation Sophia
  2. European Space Force should only be for defence, says MEP
  3. The demise of the INF treaty: can the EU save arms control?
  4. Stymied on 'golden passports', EU sets up expert group
  5. Tajani wants second term as EU parliament president
  6. EU commissioner floats idea for European space force
  7. France and Germany hope to revive EU with Aachen treaty
  8. May pushes defeated Brexit deal, offers no Plan B

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us