Statement of the Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights on comments made by the President of the Republic of Poland on the Commissioner for Human Rights
Warsaw, 6 May 2021
We have received comments made by the President of the Republic of Poland regarding the Commissioner for Human Rights with indignation and distaste. Not only due to the fact that we know the Commissioner well and hold the incumbent in high esteem. Regrettably, we perceive these words as constituting an attack on us as well as on all organisations and individuals concerned with the state of upholding the rule of law in Poland.
The words expressed by the President of the Republic of Poland do not, in our assessment, reflect the dignity of the office he occupies. The President of the Republic of Poland should be the last person to reproach anyone with anti-Polish activity or views. The Head of State must be immune to criticism directed at him and accept that decisions taken by him and their ramifications can be perceived differently.
We oppose the rhetoric of the President of the Republic of Poland which identifies the Polish authorities with Poland as such, denying both the Commissioner for Human Rights as well as citizens the right to criticise public authorities in any way. Including in international fora. This criticism is a simple outcome of a series of actions taken by the state authorities since 2015 that have resulted in a progressive erosion of the independence of key state institutions.
The President of the Republic of Poland should remember that it was on his initiative that the amendments to the law on the Supreme Court and the National Council of the Judiciary have led to the weakening of the independence of the judiciary, numerous legal disputes with the European Union, without bringing about any benefits for citizens.
Instead of reflecting on actions that undermine the rule of law and lower Poland’s standing in the international arena, we hear entirely unjustified criticism of those who defend the rule of law. Such an attitude is not commensurate with the duties of the President of the Republic of Poland, and in particular with his responsibility in ensuring that the Constitution is observed.
The Board of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights