follow us

EU: Commission’s action to stand up for rights of people in Poland must be backed by European States

“For a government marketing itself on law and justice, ironically the Polish government is seeking to put itself above the law and to deny an impartial justice system to its people,” said Iverna McGowan, Head of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PRESS RELEASE

21 December 2016

EU: Commission’s action to stand up for rights of people in Poland must be backed by European States

• Spokespeople available in Brussels and Warsaw

Today’s ‘additional recommendations’ to the Polish government calling on it to implement and publish the judgments of the Constitutional Tribunal, ensure that any reform of the Law on the Constitutional Tribunal is line with relevant standards and refrain from statements that could undermine its legitimacy and efficiency show continued commitment by the European Commission (EC) to hold Poland to account for its attack on rule of law and human rights, said Amnesty International.
The EC has given Poland a two month deadline in which to respond to these recommendations. However, with the flash appointment of a judge elected by the governing party, the Polish government has already gone against today’s Commission recommendations and has shown its determination to further crack down on the independence of the Tribunal.


“For a government marketing itself on law and justice, ironically the Polish government is seeking to put itself above the law and to deny an impartial justice system to its people,” said Iverna McGowan, Head of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.


“Given that the people’s rights in Poland are at risk, the Commission is right to hold the government to account on its international and European human rights obligations. European governments must now step up to the plate and support the people of Poland by placing this serious threat to rule of law and human rights on the agenda of the Council.”


Earlier this week, the Polish government continued their attack on the independence and functioning of the judiciary with the adoption of three new laws regarding the Constitutional Tribunal. This comes after having rejected the EC recommendations of 27 July, and the opinions of other international bodies, such as the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission and views of national and international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International.


Protests triggered by proposed restrictions on journalists’ access to the Parliament started last weekend. The blanket ban on journalists accessing parliament clearly violated media freedoms.
“Polish authorities have not changed their policy even though people have taken to the streets in protest.” said Draginja Nadazdin, Director of Amnesty International Poland.


“In light of the growing tensions, it is crucial to recall the state’s obligation to protect people who are protesting peacefully and to refrain from the use of unnecessary force and means of direct coercion.” 

Spokespeople are available in Warsaw and Brussels
For more information or to arrange an interview in Brussels 00 32-2-5021499, in Warsaw +48 691 357 935

Background
The continued attack on the judiciary and the media follows a year of draconian laws and proposals that threaten human rights, including freedom of expression and assembly, fair trial rights, the right to privacy, sexual and reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination.
The EU’s Rule of Law Framework, however, only narrowly addresses what is in fact a broader human rights crisis in the country. In a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee this fall, Amnesty International has detailed a wide range of human rights concerns, while new laws continue to be proposed and adopted.  The European Union and its member states must use all tools available to address this crisis.