Poland: Government Undermines Free Press, Rule of Law
In response to steps altering the procedures and the composition of Poland’s highest court, and increasing government control over public broadcasters, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“These moves by Poland’s new government undermine fundamental checks and balances,” said Mark P. Lagon, president. “The government’s taking of such radical steps in its first months and with little debate or expert input adds to concerns that its purpose is to increase power rather than strengthen rule of law.”
A new measure signed into law January 7 gives the Treasury Minister the power to appoint executives in charge of public television and radio, and ends the appointments of the broadcasters’ current management. The move has prompted the European Commission to schedule a special debate on January 13 on rule of law in Poland.
The government has also adopted a measure concerning the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Tribunal, that requires a two-thirds vote instead of a simple majority. The government has ignored Constitutional Tribunal rulings on the appointment of justices by the outgoing government and has instead sought to appoint five new judges to the chamber.
Poland is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, and receives a democracy score of 2.21 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2015.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.