The Venice Commission, an international watchdog and advisory group to human rights body Council of Europe, is to present in early December its opinion on laws introduced in Poland last January which merged the justice minister and prosecutor general positions.
A member of parliament from the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, Dominik Tarczyński, said that, in talks with the Venice Commission officials, his fellow party members justified the changes in Poland by referring to specific examples of similar laws in other countries.
“The Venice Commission said Law and Justice was right in many ways,” Tarczyński said, adding that: “You could see on the faces of the members of the Venice Commission the foul taste left left by [the opposition's] political attacks”.
Stanisław Piotrowicz, also a PiS MP and the head of a parliamentary justice committee, said that European Union organisations would not be so concerned with Poland were it not for the opposition “dobbing” on the country.
Officials in Warsaw have accused Brussels of bullying and harassing Poland over a series of issues, including Poland's refusal to accept migrants, logging in the Białowieża forest, and concerns over the rule of law.
Borys Budka, a member of parliament from the opposition Civic Platform (PO) party and former justice minister said: “We raised all the concerns we had during the legislative process, starting with the express speed with which this bill [on the prosecution service] was worked on, and ending with procedural powers being given to the prosecutor general, who is a politician”.
During the visit, Venice Commission officials also met Poland's Human Rights Ombudsman Adam Bodnar – who has been accused by PiS party members of getting too involved in politics, according to media reports – as well as members of Amnesty International, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland's Supreme Court and lawyer and prosecutor organisations.
The commission is also set to give its opinion on sweeping changes to Poland's judiciary and bills currently being negotiated between the president and government, following a presidential veto of two government bills after days of protests across the country in summer.
The Venice Commission last year probed Poland over changes to the country's Constitutional Tribunal. (vb/pk)