HFHR’s position statement on the Prosecutor General’s request for the constitutional review of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights submitted to the Polish Constitutional Court
For almost 30 years, the European Convention on Human Rights has been a cornerstone of the protection of the rights and freedoms of Polish citizens. The European Court of Human Rights has decided several Polish cases involving such fundamental issues as the right to life, personal liberty, the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and the right to property. Until now, its authority has not been questioned by any political circles. The ECtHR also enjoys the respect and trust of citizens, as evidenced by the increasing number of applications in which individuals complain about the operation of state bodies.
The request of the Prosecutor General, who seeks to challenge the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Xero Flor v. Poland, is the first practical step towards undermining any judgment that the ECtHR may issue in any case inconvenient for the Polish authorities. In Xero Flor, the ECtHR assessed the impact of the improper appointment of judges of the Constitutional Court on the right to a fair trial and held that the fact that the Constitutional Court is composed of persons elected as judges without a valid legal basis constitutes a violation of the right to have a case heard by a court established by law.
In the opinion of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Prosecutor General’s request is yet another example of the instrumentalisation of the Constitutional Court and abuse of its powers to undermine the mechanisms of protection of individual rights and freedoms. Regardless of a matter decided by the ECtHR, any official challenges of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights made by the Constitutional Court in individual cases go against the very essence of international human rights protection. This protection is based on the deference given to judgments of the ECtHR by the Member States of the Council of Europe.
President of the Board of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights