Specifically, it concerns Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which 47 countries – including Poland – have signed. “Everyone has the right to a fair trial (…) of a dispute (…) or a criminal charge brought against him/her by an independent and impartial court based on the law (…),” the statement read.
However, the European Court of Human Rights may not use this article to examine the independence of judges in the Constitutional Court, as the ruling now states. Because the basis for the independence of constitutional judges is the “Polish Constitution and other laws”. Constitutional judge Wojciech Sich, in his reasoning on the ruling, summed it up as follows: “You cannot consider the Constitutional Court a court,” and therefore Poland does not have to implement a particular ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.
“The Constitutional Court overturns the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that violates our system,” Deputy Justice Minister Sebastian Caleta said on the Twitter SMS service. It was “a beautiful day for the rule of law and Polish sovereignty,” Kalita continued. With its decision, the Constitutional Court stopped “another attempt at external and illegal interference in the Polish system”.
Poland’s conservative nationalist PiS government has been working to restructure the judicial system for years. Because of the reforms, the EU Commission has already opened several infringement proceedings against the government in Warsaw and filed lawsuits with the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Among other things, the Brussels authorities have doubts about the independence of the Polish Constitutional Court, which has now issued this ruling. President Julia Przybylska, who is close to the leader of the PiS, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. This court recently ruled that national law takes precedence over EU law.
Judgment may act as a trigger
The current decision of the Constitutional Court relates to a judgment of the Human Rights Court on May 7, 2021. Xero Flor filed a lawsuit after the Polish Constitutional Court dismissed its case. Since there were doubts about the legal appointment of one of the judges who made this decision, the company took the matter to the Strasbourg court. This was confirmed by the plaintiff and sentenced to compensation.
The Council of Europe and the opposition involved
The Council of Europe expressed concern about the decision. “Today’s ruling by the Polish Constitutional Court is unprecedented and causes great concern,” said Secretary-General Maria Bejinovic Boric. All 47 member states of the Council of Europe have committed themselves to “guaranteeing the rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights”.
Polish opposition politician Camilla Jasuk Behović also strongly criticized the ruling. “In Russia, the Constitutional Court also chooses which provisions it wants to adhere to,” she said. Poland signed the European Convention on Human Rights 30 years ago, and the government is now trying to “take the country out of the group of democratic countries”.
The European Court of Human Rights was established in 1959
Poland has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights several times for its controversial judicial reforms. Among other things, he issued a ruling in July against the disciplinary body, which the PiS uses to take action against corruption, other misconduct and the “legacy of communism” in the judicial system.
The European Court of Human Rights was established in 1959 by the member states of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Its mission is to examine and punish violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.
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