President urged not to sign new law on Constitutional Tribunal
Late at night on 23 December 2015 the Senate adopted the controversial law amending procedural aspects of the Constitutional Tribunal’s work. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has urged the President not to sign the new act into law and to apply for a constitutional review of the new enactment. Nevertheless, the President signed the act on 28 December.
In its letter to the President, the HFHR noted that the new law violated the principle of judicial independence, the principle of the independence and separateness of the judiciary and the trias politica principle. Furthermore, the act has been enacted in the violation of rules of the legislative process and its implementation will result in a paralysis of the Tribunal’s operations, which will effectively prevent Poland’s constitutional court from discharging its constitutional duties.
The HFHR warned that the crippling of the Tribunal’s efficient functioning will bring about negative consequences in international law. An absence of effective constitutional review mechanisms before the Constitutional Tribunal will result in a change in the established case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, triggered by a change of the available and effective mechanisms of rights and freedoms protection at the national level.
“The hasty legislative process in the Sejm and Senate coupled with non-existent vacatio legis, or the period during which both public authorities and participants in the proceedings pending before the Tribunal can adjust their decisions to the new law before it enters into force, violate the principle of the state’s loyalty towards citizens and the principle of the accuracy of the law enacted by the state”, reads the Foundation’s statement.
The HFHR has called on President to apply to the Constitutional Tribunal for a preventive constitutional review of the amendment in order to assess whether or not the new law conforms to the Constitution. “This is especially justified in the light of a number of opinions presented to (albeit completely ignored by) the legislators in the course of the lawmaking process by the Supreme Court, National Council of Judiciary, or the Polish Bar Association”, the statement continues.