Warsaw: Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has no jurisdiction over its appointment of judges, in effect ignoring a ruling from May by the European human rights court.
Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as far as it includes the Constitutional Tribunal in its definition of a court, is not compatible, Tribunal’s President Julia Przylebska said on Wednesday.
The May ruling of the ECHR stated that one of the judges of the Constitutional Tribunal was seated unlawfully, denying a company a fair hearing, Xinhua news agency reported.
However, the Tribunal claims the ECHR has no authority over the institution. According to its reasoning, the Tribunal is not a court in the sense of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case was filed by Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro.
The Polish Constitutional Tribunal, which according to critics at home and abroad is packed with political allies of the ruling conservative Law and Justice party, had previously sparked a legal crisis in Europe by claiming in early October that some parts of European laws are not in line with Poland’s constitution.
Poland has been criticised by its European Union partners for undermining the rule of law by politicising its courts and tightening control over judges.
The Polish government claims its judicial changes are necessary. “Today, the rule of law has won over the usurpation of competences,” Deputy Justice Minister Michal Wojcik tweeted on Wednesday.
“Today’s judgment from the Polish Constitutional Tribunal is unprecedented and raises serious concerns,” said Marija Pejcinovic Buric, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. “We will carefully assess the judgment’s reasoning and its effects.”
The ECHR, based in Strasbourg, France, was formed after the Second World War and rules on cases involving the Convention, which applies to all member states of the Council of Europe.