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Constitution: 20th Anniversary

2 April 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland by the National Assembly.

The 1997 Constitution can be described as the “Constitution of human rights”. It ensures the extensive protection of fundamental rights of an individual by introducing the principle of equality before the law, prohibition of discrimination, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and religion or the right to a court.

However, provisions of the Constitution remain useless without an impartial body that interprets them and ascertains that lower-level laws comply with constitutional rules. Recent changes affecting the Constitutional Tribunal have drastically limited its independence and ability to effectively perform the constitutional review of legislation.

In this context, independent courts and the civic society are becoming to play an increasingly important role as guardians of the Constitution. We got used to the notion that the Constitution protects us from the mischief of Government. Yet the recent events show that it is us, the citizens, who must take a stand to protect the Constitution.

On the occasion of Constitution’s 20th Anniversary, we would like to wish, for our sake and that of our dear readers, that the provisions of the Supreme Law be respected, on its Anniversary and beyond.

The Helsinki Foundation and the Gazeta Wyborcza daily newspaper have presented a series of 20 films featuring guests who share their views on the Constitution. The films featured, amongst others, Ewa Łętowska, Dr Adam Bodnar and Professor Adam Strzembosz.


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