Minister Ziobro: “Speaker of the Senate breached the Constitution by inviting the Venice Commission”. He did not breach it

Share

Journalist at OKO.press and Archiwum Osiatyńskiego

More

“Representatives of the Ministry of Justice can meet with the representatives of the Venice Commission, treating their arrival a little like a quasi-private visit,” said Zbigniew Ziobro in TV Trwam on 8 January. The minister is of the opinion that the invitation of the Commission to Warsaw by the Speaker of the Senate, Tomasz Grodzki, was an abuse. The facts speak differently



“According to the Polish constitution, the speaker of the Senate, Tomasz Grodzki did not have the right to ask the Venice Commission to issue an opinion on the amendment of the court acts. […] An abuse has taken place,” insisted justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro on 8 January 2020 in “Rozmowy Niedokończone” [Unfinished Discussions] in TV Trwam.

 

But it is not the Polish Constitution that determines who can ask the Venice Commission to issue an opinion, but the Commission itself. Poland has also been its member since 1992.

 

According to the principles of operation of the Venice Commission, representatives of a given country, the government, parliament or the head of state, can ask it for its opinion. In addition, the bodies of the Council of Europe and other international organizations, such as the European Union, are also able to do so.

 

The argument regarding Grodzki’s abuse is a further manipulation by a representative of the Law and Justice government.

 

Firstly, in accordance with Article 8 of the Regulations of the Senate, Tomasz Grodzki represents the higher chamber of the Polish parliament. Therefore, he is a representative of this parliament, who is authorized to invite the Commission, which he did at the end of December 2019.

 

His competence was confirmed by the Commission itself, by accepting the invitation and announcing that it would issue an opinion on the disciplining act in a priority procedure.

 

In 2015, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of that time, Witold Waszczykowski, did the same as Grodzki. A representative of the government then asked the Venice Commission to evaluate the “reform” of the Constitutional Tribunal.

 

The reporters of the Venice Commission will visit Poland on 9–10 January.

 

Grodzki sends the invitation

 

Speaker of the Senat, Grodzki, called on the Venice Commission shortly after he received a letter from the Vice-President of the European Commission of 19 December 2019. In it, Věra Jourová appealed to the highest authorities of the Republic of Poland to stop work on the so-called act disciplining judges.

 

“I invite all State organs not to take forward the legislative proceedings before carrying out the necessary consultations with all stakeholders,” she wrote in the letter.

 

Jourová called on the Polish authorities to talk especially to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

 

Tomasz Grodzki responded immediately to her letter.

 

He assured the Vice-President of the European Commission that the Senate will ensure that the Act is progressed in a transparent and legal manner and that the partners in Poland and abroad will be thoroughly consulted. Shortly afterwards, on 30 December, he sent a letter inviting the Venice Commission to Warsaw.

 

The Commission is to issue an opinion on the so-called disciplining act, also referred to as the muzzle act. The bill, which was voted through by Law and Justice in the Sejm on 20 December, after 29 hours of chaotic “correction”, assumes, among other things, a drastic increase in the disciplinary liability of judges.

 

They are to be threatened with penalties for challenging the status of judges appointed with the participation of the neo-NCJ.

 

The Venice Commission received Grodzki’s invitation on 2 January 2020. As the Senate’s justice commission will deal with the bill for the first time at the session on 7–8 January, the Commission decided to prepare the opinion in priority mode. It will be prepared by the team of reporters who will visit Poland on 9–10 January.

 

Normally, the Commission accepts opinions at plenary sessions which are held four times a year. However, in urgent cases, it can do this earlier and just support the earlier findings at the plenary session. The next plenary session is planned for 20–21 March 2020.

 

The Commission’s visits to Poland

 

The Venice Commission was invited to Poland in December 2015 by Law and Justice’s former minister of foreign affairs, Witold Waszczykowski. Shortly after the visit to Warsaw, at the session of 12–13 March 2016, the Commission accepted a devastating opinion about the “reform” of the Constitutional Tribunal conducted by the Law and Justice government.

 

It acknowledged that:

 

  • President Andrzej Duda must swear in the three judges chosen by the Sejm of the 7th term of Office;
  • the Constitutional Tribunal should not adjudicate on the constitutionality of an act on the basis of the provisions of that same act;
  • the publication of the Constitutional Tribunal’s judgement of 9 March 2017 (the Tribunal acknowledged the amendment of the Act on the Constitutional Tribunal to be unconstitutional) is a “pre-condition” for Poland to come out of the constitutional crisis.

 

The Law and Justice government ignored this opinion.

 

Waszczykowski’s decision to invite the Commission was strongly criticized by his party’s colleagues, including Chairman Kaczyński. Waszczykowski himself made the assurance that the opinion is not binding on Poland and that the Commission was biased. He explained that if he had not invited it himself, it would still have been “sent” to Poland.

 

The Venice Commission has visited our country several times in the years after that to analyse the Law and Justice party’s reforms:

 

  • in April 2016, it was “sent by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to take a look at the amendment to the Act on the Police, which increased the ability to invigilate citizens;
  • in October 2016, the Commission again analysed the reforms of the Constitutional Tribunal (at the request of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland), to check whether the government had complied with the opinion of March;
  • in May 2017, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe asked it to assess the amendments to the law on the prosecution service;
  • in October 2017, also at the request of the Parliamentary Assembly, it analysed the “reform” of the ordinary courts, the Supreme Court and the NCJ.

 

Each of the opinions criticized the changes introduced by the Law and Justice government. In turn, this government has not implemented any of the Commission’s comments.

 

Translated by Roman Wojtasz.



Author


Journalist at OKO.press and Archiwum Osiatyńskiego


More

Published

January 9, 2020

Tags

Supreme CourtDisciplinary ChamberConstitutional Tribunaldisciplinary proceedingsPolandrule of lawZbigniew ZiobroEuropean CommissionCourt of Justice of the EUjudgesjudicial independenceNational Council of the JudiciaryEuropean UnionCourt of JusticeAndrzej DudaMałgorzata ManowskaIgor Tuleyadisciplinary systemEuropean Court of Human RightsMateusz MorawieckiCommissioner for Human RightsCJEUMinister of JusticeJarosław KaczyńskiWaldemar Żurekdemocracymuzzle lawpresidential electionsjudiciaryAdam Bodnarpreliminary rulingsK 3/21Hungaryelections 2020Kamil Zaradkiewiczdisciplinary commissionerBeata MorawiecPiotr SchabPrzemysław RadzikFirst President of the Supreme CourtprosecutorsEuropean Arrest WarrantMaciej NawackiPrime MinisterJulia Przyłębskamedia freedomProsecutor GeneralConstitutionCOVID-19National Council for JudiciaryMichał LasotaPresidentfreedom of expressionŁukasz PiebiakCourt of Justice of the European Unioncriminal lawdisciplinary liability for judgesWojciech HermelińskiMarek SafjanAleksander StepkowskiNational Recovery PlanOSCEPaweł JuszczyszynAnna DalkowskaNational Public Prosecutorcriminal proceedingsfreedom of assemblyStanisław BiernatExtraordinary Control and Public Affairs ChamberSupreme Administrative Courtconditionality mechanismconditionalityEU budgetWłodzimierz WróbelCriminal ChamberLaw and JusticeprosecutionNCJMinistry of JusticeNational ProsecutorDagmara Pawełczyk-WoickaelectionsStanisław PiotrowiczJarosław WyrembakAndrzej ZollMałgorzata Gersdorfacting first president of the Supreme CourtOrdo IurisK 7/21May 10 2020 electionsLex DudaNational Reconstruction PlanPresident of PolandPresident of the Republic of PolandSejmXero Flor w Polsce Sp. z o.o. v. PolandBroda and Bojara v Polandmedia independenceIustitiaJarosław DudziczSylwia Gregorczyk-AbramAmsterdam District CourtKrzysztof ParchimowiczArticle 6 ECHRTHEMISEAWUrsula von der LeyenmediaimmunityCouncil of Europe2017policeJustice Defence Committee – KOSFreedom HouseLech GarlickiEwa ŁętowskaSupreme Court PresidentArticle 7Venice CommissionPM Mateusz MorawieckiAndrzej StępkaRecovery FundP 7/20Justice Fundneo-judgesPiSC-791/19National Electoral CommissionAstradsson v IcelandK 6/21Piotr PszczółkowskiPegasusGeneral Assembly of the Supreme Court Judgeslex NGOcivil societyRussiaProfessional Liability ChamberJoanna Hetnarowicz-SikorasuspensionJarosław GowinLGBTLGBT ideology free zonesReczkowicz and Others v. PolandUkraineKrystian MarkiewiczKonrad WytrykowskiJakub IwaniecZuzanna Rudzińska-BluszczDariusz DrajewiczRafał PuchalskidefamationcourtsMichał WawrykiewiczFree CourtsMarzanna Piekarska-DrążekEwa WrzosekEU law primacyTVPLex Super OmniaAdam TomczyńskiBelgiumNetherlandsBogdan Święczkowskijudcial independenceMaciej Miterademocratic backslidingViktor OrbanOLAFdecommunizationNext Generation EUvetoJózef IwulskiLaw on the NCJrecommendationTeresa Dębowska-RomanowskaKazimierz DziałochaMirosław GranatAdam JamrózStefan JaworskiBiruta Lewaszkiewicz-PetrykowskaWojciech ŁączkowskiHuman Rights CommissionerMarek MazurkiewiczCCBEAndrzej MączyńskiThe Council of Bars and Law Societies of EuropeJanusz NiemcewiczMałgorzata Pyziak- SzafnickaStanisław Rymarpublic opinion pollFerdynand RymarzAndrzej RzeplińskiJerzy StępieńPiotr TulejaSławomira Wronkowska-JaśkiewiczMirosław WyrzykowskireportBohdan ZdziennickiMarek ZubikDidier ReyndersEuropean ParliamentOKO.pressZiobroMichał LaskowskiMarek PietruszyńskitransferPiotr GąciarekKrystyna PawłowiczMariusz MuszyńskiRegional Court in KrakówPiebiak gatehuman rightscorruptionEuropean Association of Judges11 January March in WarsawPaweł FilipekMaciej TaborowskiAdam SynakiewiczBelarusstate of emergencycoronavirusXero Flor v. PolandEU treatiesAgnieszka Niklas-BibikSłupsk Regional CourtMaciej Rutkiewiczresolution of 23 January 2020Mirosław WróblewskiCivil ChamberJoanna Misztal-KoneckaLeon Kieresright to protestSławomir JęksaPKWWiktor JoachimkowskiRoman GiertychMariusz Kamińskiinfringment actionsurveillanceEU valuesMichał WośMinistry of FinanceCentral Anti-Corruption BureauENCJJacek SasinErnest BejdaThe First President of the Supreme CourtMaciej CzajkaMariusz JałoszewskiIsraelŁukasz Radkeforeign agents lawpolexitDolińska-Ficek and Ozimek v PolandOrganization of Security and Co-operation in EuropeFirst President of the Suprme CourtPaulina Kieszkowska-KnapikMaria Ejchart-DuboisAgreement for the Rule of LawPorozumienie dla PraworządnościLGBT free zonesAct sanitising the judiciaryequalityMarek AstMaciej FerekChamber of Extraordinary VerificationEdyta Barańskahate crimesCourt of Appeal in Krakówhate speechPutinismcriminal codeKaczyńskiGrzęda v Polandright to fair trialPaulina AslanowiczJarosław MatrasŻurek v PolandMałgorzata Wąsek-WiaderekSobczyńska and Others v Polandct on the Protection of the PopulatioparliamentlegislationRafał Trzaskowskilex Wośmedia lawRome StatuteInternational Criminal CourtPrzemysła RadzikAntykastaSenateStanisław ZdunIrena BochniakKrystyna Morawa-FryźlewiczMarcin WarchołKatarzyna ChmuraElżbieta KarskaMarcin RomanowskiGrzegorz FurmankiewiczJacek CzaputowiczMarek JaskulskiPrzemysław CzarnekJoanna Kołodziej-Michałowiczlegislative practiceEwa ŁąpińskaZbigniew ŁupinaENAPaweł StyrnaZbigniew BoniekKasta/AntykastaAndrzej SkowronŁukasz BilińskiIvan MischenkoOmbudsmanMonika FrąckowiakArkadiusz CichockiKraśnikEmilia SzmydtNorwayTomasz SzmydtNorwegian fundssmear campaignNorwegian Ministry of Foreign AffairsE-mail scandalDworczyk leaksMichał DworczykC-487/19media pluralism#RecoveryFilesArticle 10 ECHRmilestonesConstitutional Tribunal PresidentRegional Court in Amsterdamrepairing the rule of lawharassmentOpenbaar MinisterieAK judgmentBohdan BieniekSimpson judgmentMarcin KrajewskiChamber of Professional LiabilityForum Współpracy SędziówMałgorzata Dobiecka-Woźniakpublic broadcastermutual trustLMIrelandIrena MajcherAmsterdamthe Regional Court in WarsawUnited NationsLeszek Mazurpopulisminterim measuresautocratizationMultiannual Financial Frameworkabortion rulingequal treatmentabortionprotestsfundamental rightsthe NetherlandsDenmarkSwedenFinlandMariusz KrasońCT PresidentGermanyCelmerC354/20 PPUC412/20 PPUAusl 301 AR 104/19Karlsruheact on misdemeanoursCivil Service ActParliamentary Assembly of the Council of EuropeEUWhite Paperlustrationtransitional justice2018Nations in TransitCouncil of the EUmedia taxStanisław Zabłockiadvertising taxmediabezwyboruJacek KurskiKESMAIndex.huTelex.huJelenJózsef SzájerKlubrádióSLAPPLIBE CommitteeStrategic Lawsuits Against Public ParticipationFrans TimmermansGazeta WyborczaUS Department of StatePollitykaBrussels IRome IISwieczkowskiArticle 2Forum shoppingadvocate generalDariusz ZawistowskitransparencyEuropean Economic and Social Committeepress releaseSebastian KaletaRights and Values ProgrammeC-156/21C-157/21C-619/18Marek Piertuszyńskidefamatory statementsWorld Justice Project awardNational Prosecutor’s Officeintimidation of dissentersWojciech SadurskiBogdan ŚwiączkowskiDisicplinary ChamberjudgeTribunal of StatePechOlsztyn courtKochenovPrzemysła CzarnekEvgeni TanchevEducation MinisterFreedom in the WorldECJIpsosFrackowiakOlimpia Barańska-Małuszeretirement ageAmnesty InternationalHudocKonrad SzymańskiPiotr Bogdanowicztrans-Atlantic valuesPiotr BurasLSOauthoritarian equilibriumlawyersArticle 258Act of 20 December 2019clientelismoligarchic systemEuropean Public Prosecutor's Officerepressive actPolish National FoundationLux VeritatisKoen LenaertsMałgorzata BednarekPiotr WawrzykharrassmentMarian BanaśAlina CzubieniakSupreme Audit OfficeTVNjournalistslexTVNGerard BirgfellerEwa MaciejewskaPolish mediapostal voteKrakówRzeszówborderpostal vote billprimacy