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Venice Commission starts Polish democracy probe

PR dla Zagranicy
Roberto Galea 08.02.2016 15:47
The head of the Venice Commission has met with Polish president Andrzej Duda and members of the judiciary to probe the state of democracy in the country.
The HQ of the Constitutional Tribunal. Photo. Wikimedia CommonsThe HQ of the Constitutional Tribunal. Photo. Wikimedia Commons

Gianni Buquicchio, the president of the Venice Commission – the Council of Europe’s human-rights organisation – met Polish President Andrzej Duda to discuss a decision to elect new members to Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal.

“It was a very good, substantive meeting between two lawyers,” said a spokesman for the presidential office, Marek Magierkowski, following the meeting.

Magierkowski added that the conversation was an informal one and initiated by President Duda. “The head of the Venice Commission was very interested in the opinion of the president on the discussion and debate which has been going on in the country for several months,” the spokesman added.

Buquicchio praised the decision of Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, who invited representatives of the Commission to Poland, Magierkowski said. He added that the findings of the Venice Commission are not binding.

Over their two-day trip to Poland on Monday and Tuesday, members of the Commission will meet officials from the Polish Justice Ministry, the Constitutional Tribunal, the Supreme Court, the National Council of the Judiciary, as well as various MPs.

The European Commission last month launched an inquiry into whether Poland is upholding the principle of the rule of law and whether controversial legislation pushed through by the country's new Law and Justice (PiS) government violates EU standards.

Brussels has said it will work closely with the Venice Commission, which includes experts in constitutional and international law, in assessing developments in Poland.

In December 2015, the governing PiS party passed legal amendments which saw five new judges being elected to the Constitutional Tribunal.

A report by Poland’s Attorney General later said that three amendments to the law related to the Constitutional Tribunal introduced by PiS were unconstitutional. (rg/pk)

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