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3/13/16

Poland: Protests as Poland's Radical Right Wing Government Rejects Top Court Ruling

Poland's Government overrules top 
court and Council of Europe
Poland's Right Wing Law and Justice (PiS) government on Saturday, March 12, said it would ignore a Constitutional Tribunal ruling invalidating its legal reforms, a day after a European rights body argued the controversial changes to the top court threatened democracy and the rule of law.

Since winning October elections, the PiS has pushed through a number of reforms in the media, constitutional court and other institutions that have garnered criticism and concern from the EU, United States and other rights institutions.

The latest battle lines have been drawn over the constitutional court, after PiS passed amendents in December increasing the number of judges to make a ruling, requiring the court to review cases in the order they were received, and changing the threshold for a decision from a simple majority to a two-thirds majority.

Critics argue the changes are designed to slow down the court and render it dysfunctional in order to prevent judges from blocking controversial PiS legislation.

On Friday,March 11 the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe, made a non-binding judgment that the changes had "crippled" the Constitutional Tribunal and "endangered not only the rule of law but also the functioning of the democratic system."

The Council of Europe also said the government must follow the constitutional court's decision.

That judgment is likely to put Poland on a fresh collision course with the EU, which has referred Poland to a review at the European Commission over concerns of a retrenchment of democracy and rule of law.

A negative decision from the EU's executive body could lead to Poland losing its voting rights at the EU level.

On Saturday, Poland's government said it would ask parliament to review the Venice Commission's judgment but would still not recognize the Constitutional Tribunal's ruling.

The government has refused to officially publish the top court's findings, effectively blocking them from going into force.

Read more: Protests as Poland rejects top court ruling | News | DW.COM | 12.03.2016

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