President declines to sign bill, directs it to constitutional court
PR dla Zagranicy
The Polish President has declined to sign a controversial bill limiting public gatherings, opting instead, for the first time during his term in office, to direct the matter to the Constitutional Tribunal.
In a statement issued by his office, President Andrzej Duda said that “freedom of assembly is an essential element of democracy and a prerequisite for the use of other human rights and freedoms related to the sphere of public life”.
In early December, over 150 Polish and international NGOs appealed to President Duda to veto the rules if they were voted through by parliament.
The bill outlines new limitations on public gatherings and would ban counter-rallies from taking place in the same place as public assemblies.
In an unprecedented move since taking office in August 2015, Duda sent the bill to the Constitutional Tribunal, which recently appointed a new head aligned with the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party.
Presidential spokesperson Marek Magierowski said on Thursday that the President has in the past voiced his doubts about three parts of the bill.
One of the provisions of the bill which raised the president’s objections relates to so-called regular gatherings.
Under this rule, groups would be able to reserve sites for regular gathering for a period of up to three years, during which time no other public demonstration would be allowed at the same site.
According to the President, such a provision is a violation of the freedom of gatherings guaranteed in the Constitution.