European rights body checks on Poland’s rule of law, again

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Members of a European law and human rights commission are for the second time this year considering the state of Poland's rule of law after the conservative government rejected the body's previous advice.

European Union leaders criticize Poland's government for reforms it has introduced in the past year into the legislative system, the media and police. Poland's government says this amounts to interfering in its internal affairs.

Envoys from the Venice Commission, a watchdog body of constitutional law experts, met Monday with the head of Poland's Supreme Court, Judge Malgorzata Gersdorf. During a two-day visit, commissioners also were to meet with the head of the Constitutional Court — another top court that is at the heart of the political conflict in Poland — and with government representatives.

A report on the findings is expected next month.

Supreme Court spokesman Dariusz Swiecicki said the commissioners have very good knowledge of the situation of Poland's courts and the law system.

In March, the commission said that steps taken by the government to influence and weaken the country's Constitutional Tribunal threatened democracy. The government disregarded the body's recommendations as non-binding opinion.

The defiant head of Poland's ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has said the latest visit is of "no importance."

"Such lack of objectivism, refusing to take Polish law into consideration ... leads us to treat the commission with great distance," Kaczynski told a meeting of his Law and Justice party on Sunday.
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