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PiS amendments to Constitutional Tribunal under fire

PR dla Zagranicy
Roberto Galea 09.12.2015 17:42
Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has ruled some of the controversial amendments to the law related to the Tribunal introduced by the Law and Justice (PiS) party are unconstitutional.
The Tribunal judges convene for the verdict on Wednesday. Photo: PAP/Paweł SupernakThe Tribunal judges convene for the verdict on Wednesday. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak

The Tribunal ruled that among unconstitutional changes was a recent PiS amendment shortening the term of the current head and deputy head of the Tribunal.

Another issue which was unconstitutional was an amendment allowing the Sejm, the lower house of Poland’s parliament, to select three new judges, the Tribunal said.

But the technical procedures by which the law on the Tribunal was amended did not violate the constitution, the judges decided.

The ruling is in line with a recent report by Poland’s General Prosecutor Andrzej Seremet who said that three amendments were in violation of the Polish constitution.

Earlier Wednesday, President Andrzej Duda swore in a fifth Constitutional Tribunal judge backed by Law and Justice, without waiting for the Tribunal’s ruling later in the day.

The replacement of five Tribunal judges with those favoured by Law and Justice has been slammed by the opposition, including the Civic Platform (PO) party, which was voted out of power in October.

Critics at home and abroad have described the changes to the Tribunal ushered in by Law and Justice as a grab for power and an attack on democracy, a charge that PiS fiercely denies.

The Constitutional Tribunal rules on whether laws passed by parliament are in keeping with the Polish constitution.

A protestor outside the Constitutional Tribunal building in Warsaw on Wednesday. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak

Observers have said that Law and Justice feared that a Tribunal dominated by judges selected by the previous PO government could block some of the sweeping changes that PiS wants to introduce in Poland after coming to power in a landslide parliamentary election victory on 25 October. (pk/rg/rk)

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