Rapporteur alarmed by disruption of separation of powers in Poland

Bernd Fabritius (Germany, EPP/CD), rapporteur of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on ‘new threats to the rule of law in Council of Europe member States – selected examples’, today expressed his deep alarm following the adoption of two new laws relating to the judiciary in Poland and to a planned third one relating to its Supreme Court.

“These new laws directly undermine the respect of the rule of law in Poland by putting at stake the system of checks and balances,” he denounced. “The new laws give parliament the power to choose members of the National Council of the Judiciary. This blatantly violates judicial independence and seriously disrupts the separation of powers in Poland,” he said. “Another draft law, hastily presented to Parliament, concerning the Supreme Court also raises concern as it would have the effect of subjugating the judiciary to the executive,” he added calling on Poland lawmakers to refrain from passing this law.

“The separation of powers and judicial independence are the cornerstones of any functioning democratic state based on the rule of law,” he stressed. “Only strong, independent and impartial judges can prevent any backslide towards authoritarianism.”

”Commitment to the rule of law is not just a matter of words. It is a non-negotiable founding principle of the Council of Europe. Member States must respect it and - what is more - defend it,” he concluded.

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights is due to adopt the report at its Paris meeting on 5 September. The report is scheduled for debate at the next PACE plenary session (Strasbourg, 9- 13 October).