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October, 19th, 2016, Warsaw


Mr Andrzej Duda

The President of the Republic of Poland

The Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland

Wiejska 10 Street

00-489 Warsaw


Mrs Beata Szydło

The Prime Minister

The Chancellery of the Prime Minister

Aleje Ujazdowskie 1/3

00-583 Warsaw

Since 2015, with great concern, we have been following the development of the constitutional crisis in Poland. The crisis, which at its initial stages could have been resolved through the measures provided by law, has escalated to the point that it poses a serious risk for the protection of the rule of law and human rights.

At the end of July 2016, the European Commission adopted the Rule of Law Recommendation on the situation in Poland, opening the second stage of the Rule of Law Framework. The European Commission asked the Polish government to inform the Commission, within three months, of the steps towards the implementation of the recommendations.

On behalf of the non-governmental organisations working for civil society and protection of human rights who signed this letter, we would like to appeal to you to implement these recommendations.

The European Commission recommended the Polish authorities to fully execute the judgments of the Constitutional Tribunal of 3 and 9 December 2015. According to those judgements, the seats in the Constitutional Tribunal should be taken by three judges legally appointed by the Parliament of the previous term in October 2015, and not by the judges appointed by the Parliament without a valid legal basis in December 2015. The judges appointed in October 2015 have so far not been sworn into office.

The European Commission recommended further that the Polish government should publish and respect all the judgements of the Constitutional Tribunal and guarantee that any future reform of the Act on the Constitutional Tribunal is in compliance with the Tribunal’s judgements and ensure the possibility for the Constitutional Tribunal to review the compatibility of the Act on the Constitutional Tribunal of July 2016 with the Constitution. The European Commission also pointed to the necessity to refrain from actions and public statements which could undermine the legitimacy and efficiency of the Constitutional Tribunal.

It is our great concern that none of these recommendations has been implemented. So far, the judgement of 9 March 2016, in which the Constitutional Tribunal verified the constitutionality of the Act on the Constitutional Tribunal of December 2015, and the judgement of 11 August 2016, in which the Constitutional Tribunal verified the constitutionality of the Act on the Constitutional Tribunal of July 2016, have not been published.

Furthermore, the new Act on the Constitutional Tribunal adopted in July 2016 does not fulfil the recommendations presented by the Venice Commission, and the Constitutional Tribunal in its judgement of August 2016 found it partly unconstitutional. In our opinion, the new draft Act on the status of the judge of a Constitutional Tribunal could be the next step towards weakening the independence of the Tribunal.

With growing concern, in the last couple of months we have noted numerous statements made by the representatives of the governing majority addressed to the Constitutional Tribunal and its judges. Undermining the constitutional role of the Tribunal and endangering its independence is incompatible with a democratic society based on respect for human rights and rule of law.

Dear President Duda, Dear Prime Minister Szydło,

In recent months, on many occasions, you have rightly noted that the European Union faces difficult problems requiring solutions. The problems concern, among others, the migration crisis or the United Kingdom’s exit from the community. We do believe that the European Union created by states with strong democratic systems and respecting human rights can address these challenges.

Therefore, we join the European Commission and call upon you to swear into office the three judges legally appointed in October 2015, publish two remaining judgements of the Constitutional Tribunal, respect all of its judgements and refrain from any further actions that could threaten its independence. These will be the first steps toward restoration of the full protection of the rule of law in Poland.

On behalf of the signatories,

Danuta Przywara

President of the Board

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights



1.         Akcja Demokracja      Polska

2.         Albanian Helsinki Committee            Albania

3.         Amnesty International Polska

4.         Antigone         Italy

5.         Association UMDPL Ukraine

6.         B.a.B.e Croatia

7.         Belarusian Helsinki Committe           Belarus

8.         Belarusian Human Rights House on behalf of: Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Belarusian Pen Centre, Human Rights Center Viasna Law Initiative Belarus

9.         BlueLink Foundation Bulgaria

10.       Bulgarian Helsinki Committee           Bulgaria

11.       Caucasian Centre for Human Rights & Conflict Studies (CCHRCS)           Georgia

12.       Center for Civil Liberties        Ukraine

13.       Centre for Civil and Political Rights Switzerland

14.       Centre for Peace Studies         Croatia

15.       CROSOL - Croatian Platform for International Citizen Solidarity    Croatia

16.       DRA Berlin (German-Russian Exchange)     Germany

17.       Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv on behalf of: AHALAR, ALMENDA, MART, Transcarpathian Public Center           Ukraine

18.       Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center Azerbaijan

19.       Estonian Human Rights Centre          Estonia

20.       Europe without Barriers          Ukraine

21.       European Grassroots Antiracist Movement   

22.       Fair Trials        United Kingdom

23.       Forum for Human Rights (FORUM)  Slovakia

24.       Free Citizen Civic Initiatives' Support Center            Armenia

25.       Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego          Polska

26.       Fundacja Panoptykon Polska

27.       Fundacja Unia Europejska-Polska      Polska

28.       Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT)             Georgia

29.       Georgian Young Lawyers' Association          Georgia

30.       Greek Helsinki Monitor          Greece

31.       Health and Human Rights Info          Norway

32.       Helsinki Association for Human Rights Defender     Armenia

33.       Helsinki Citizens' Assembly -Vanadzor         Armenia

34.       Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia      Serbia

35.       Helsinki Committee in Serbia Serbia

36.       Helsinki Committee of Armenia         Armenia

37.       Helsińska Fundacja Praw Człowieka Polska

38.       Homo Faber    Polska

39.       Human Right Council of St.Petersburg          Russia

40.       Human Right Monitoring Institute     Lithuania

41.       Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan   Azerbaijan

42.       Human Rights First     The United States of America

43.       Human Rights House Foundation      Norway

44.       Human Rights House Voronezh         Russia

45.       Human Rights Information Center     Ukraine

46.       Human Rights League            Slovakia

47.       Human Rights Movement "Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan"   Kyrgyzstan

48.       Human Rights Watch

49.       Humanitarian Research Public Union Azerbaijan

50.       Hungarian Civil Liberties Union        Hungary

51.       Hungarian Helsinki Committee          Hungary

52.       INPRIS (Instytut Prawa i Społeczeństwa)      Polska

53.       Institute Respublica    Ukraine

54.       Instytut Spraw Publicznych    Polska

55.       International Commission of Jurists (NJCM)             Netherlands

56.       International Consortium EUROBELARUS

57.       International Partnership for Human Rights

58.       Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties    Italy

59.       Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law          Kazakchstan

60.       Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group      Ukraine

61.       Kosova Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims   

62.       Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM Serbia

63.       League of Human Rights        Czech Republic

64.       Legal Education Society         Azerbaijan

65.       Legal Resources Centre          Moldova

66.       Liberal Academy Tbilisi         Georgia

67.       Media Rights Institute Azerbaijan      Azerbaijan

68.       Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC)       Netherlands

69.       Norwegian Helsinki Committee         Norway

70.       Notabene         Tajikistan

71.       Polskie Towarzystwo Prawa Antydyskryminacyjnego          Polska

72.       Promo LEX Moldova Moldova

73.       Protection of rights without borders   Armenia

74.       Public Foundation Golos Svobody     Kyrgyzstan

75.       Public Information and Need of Knowledge Armenia

76.       Public Union of Democracy and Human Rights Resource Centre    Azerbaijan

77.       Public Verdict Foundation     Russia

78.       Regional Center for Strategic Studies Georgia/Azerbaijan

79.       Rights International Spain      Spain

80.       Sieć Obywatelska Watchdog  Polska

81.       Sova Center for Information and Analysis     Russia

82.       Statewatch      United Kingdom

83.       Stowarzyszenie im. Prof. Zbigniewa Hołdy  Polska

84.       Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej  Polska

85.       Stowarzyszenie Projekt: Polska          Polska

86.       Stowarzyszenie przeciw Antysemityzmowi i Ksenofobii Otwarta Rzeczpospolita   Polska

87.       Swiss Helsinki Association    Sweden

88.       UHHRU and ACICC

89.       Women Crisis Center Azerbaijan

90.       World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)          

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