Poland deepens legal struggle in Europe with ruling against the European Court of Human Rights

Poland’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the European Court of Human Rights cannot question the status of its judges, opening a new front in the battle over reforming the country’s judicial system.

The ruling comes in response to a case brought by the hardline Polish Minister of Justice Zbigniew Sziobro, amid Long-term battle Between Warsaw and Brussels over series of changes Critics say it fundamentally undermines the independence of the Polish judiciary.

The European Commission has challenged many aspects of Warsaw’s reforms in the European Court of Justice, which has ruled that some changes – such as a new disciplinary system for judges – are illegal.

However, aspects of the reform have been taken up by the European Court of Human Rights – an institution distinct from the EU, which ruled in May that a Polish company had been denied its right to a fair trial because a constitutional court judge was in breach of the law. Eye.

In its ruling on Wednesday, which was widely seen as a response to that case, Poland’s Constitutional Court ruled that part of Article 6.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a fair trial before an independent court, cannot be applied to The Polish Constitutional Court, or used to give the European Court of Human Rights the right to assess the legality of the appointment of judges to the Polish Constitutional Court.

Jacob Jaracowski, a legal expert at Democracy Reporting International, said the ruling is significant because it “escalated” Poland’s standoff and the rule of law beyond its conflict with the European Union to other international institutions, such as the European Court of Human Rights.

“The European Court of Human Rights has made a few rulings on Poland, and we now have the Polish reaction. This is an attempt to disrupt the European Court of Human Rights by providing the government with a legal cover to ignore its ruling.”

This ruling takes this crisis beyond the conflict between Warsaw and Brussels over how to create the European Union. It is now clear that this relates to the Polish government’s damage to the rule of law in Poland, and to various international institutions. . . Trying to do something about it.”

Sebastian Kalita, Poland’s deputy justice minister, welcomed the Constitutional Court’s decision. “The Constitutional Court has blocked the latest attempt of outside and illegal interference in the Polish judicial system,” he wrote on Twitter.

The standoff between Poland and the European Union over judicial changes in Warsaw has intensified since the conservative Nationalist Law and Justice party embarked on a series of reforms it says are necessary to improve the functioning of the judiciary.

The dispute came to a head last month when the Constitutional Court, which was neutralized by the government in 2016 in a series of maneuvers that the court itself deemed unconstitutional, ruled that key parts of EU law were inconsistent with the Polish constitution, raising questions about Poland’s long-term future in the bloc.

The standoff has delayed Brussels’ approval of Poland’s Covid-19 economic recovery package, Actually freezing 36 billion euros of fundingand sparked calls for a new police mechanism to be used to withhold more EU money from Warsaw.

Last week, the committee Books to Poland Request information on how EU funds are protected in light of judicial changes. Warsaw has two months to respond.

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