Poland: ECtHR ruling on “unlawful” Constitutional Court must spur action

Responding to today’s judgment of the European Court of Human Rights which found that irregularities in the election of judges to the Constitutional Court of Poland had precluded access to a “tribunal established by law”, Amnesty International’s European Institutions Director, Eve Geddie, said:

“We welcome the decision of the European Court of Human Rights. It sends a powerful message to the Polish authorities: interfering with the election of judges to the Constitutional Court makes the Constitutional Court unlawful.

This decision confirms what many people in Poland have known for some time: that the Constitutional Court can no longer effectively protect human rights
Amnesty International

“This ruling that the bench of Poland’s  Constitutional Court is not independent and its judges were appointed in violation of the law must now spur the EU to finally take strong action. Years of ‘dialogue’ to prevent the Polish authorities from taking control of its courts have clearly failed.

“This decision confirms what many people in Poland have known for some time: that the Constitutional Court can no longer effectively protect human rights. How can an unlawful Court uphold people’s rights?

“We hope this judgment will encourage institutions such as the EU to finally take strong action on this matter, after years of ‘dialogue’ which have clearly failed to stop the Polish authorities undermining this crucial judicial institution.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Stefan Simanowitz press@amnesty.org or call +44 (0) 20 7413 5566.

Background

In today’s ruling in the case Xero Flor v Poland, the ECtHR found that the there had been a violation of the right to a fair hearing and of the right to a tribunal established by law.

The election of judges to the Constitutional Court, dating back to 2015, occurred via an irregular procedure. On these grounds the Court found that the Constitutional Court was unlawful.

The Constitutional Court had previously ruled on a number of controversial cases invalidating the constitutionality of access to abortion on the ground of “severe and irreversible foetal defect” and declaring unconstitutional the law that allowed the outgoing Commissioner for Human Rights to remain in office until his successor was appointed.