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Poland: co-rapporteurs concerned about the situation of the Constitutional Court and reforms of the justice system

In an information note on “The functioning of democratic institutions in Poland” declassified on 9 May 2017, the Monitoring Committee voiced concern about the “political and constitutional crisis” that had followed the 2015 parliamentary elections and the recent changes and reforms implemented by the new authorities regarding the functioning of the Constitutional Court and the laws concerning the National Council of the Judiciary, the Prosecution Service, and demonstrations and rallies.

The co-rapporteurs, Yves Cruchten (Luxembourg, SOC) and Thierry Mariani (France, EPP/CD), who visited Warsaw from 3 to 5 April 2017, underlined that the problems concerning the composition of the Constitutional Court – which had been at the origin of the constitutional crisis – had not been resolved.

They also mentioned a “risk of politicisation” of the National Council of the Judiciary – the information note states that, according to the draft amendments to the law, the judicial members would be selected by the Parliament, and the Council would be split into two chambers, one for judicial members and the other for political representatives.

In addition, they expressed concern about amendments to the law on the Prosecution Service that were adopted in March 2016 and abolished the position of an independent Prosecutor General, merging it with that of Minister of Justice, which “could seriously affect the independence of the prosecution service”.

At the request of the co-rapporteurs, the Monitoring Committee agreed to request opinions of the Venice Commission on the amendments to the law on the National Council of the Judiciary, and on the amended law on the Prosecution Service.