Ombudsman: head of constitutional court should be removed for impartiality

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Poland's Commissioner for Human Rights Adam Bodnar has asked the Constitutional Tribunal to remove the court's head Julia Przyłębska from the adjudicating panel in the case regarding the legality of the Ombudsman's service after the end of his term. Bodnar said a "lawless" change has been made to panel ahead of the trial.

The tenth attempt to hold the trial has been scheduled for April 12. The case has been referred to the Constitutional Tribunal (TK) by a group of Law and Justice party lawmakers. They want the court to say if the provision automatically extending the Ombudsman's (RPO) term in case of a lack of successor is constitutional.

A panel of five judges has been designated to the case: the chairwoman of the TK Julia Przyłębska, Stanisław Piotrowicz, Justyn Piskorski, Bartłomiej Sochański and Wojciech Sych.

The RPO office said on Friday that one of the judges - Rafał Wojciechowski - has been recently replaced by judge Sochański, and that the office hasn't been informed about the switch. "The Ombudsman would like to stress that such manipulation with adjudicating panel is unlawful" - the RPO office said in a statement.

Furthermore, the office said "the adjudicating panel in this case has been composed with blatant violation of the law". According to the RPO, there is no provision in the law on the constitutional court that would allow such changes.

Therefore, the Ombudsman called for judge Przyłębska to be removed from the panel due to "obvious lack of objectivity and impartiality".

Bodnar added that it was not his intention to impede the process of designating judges, but rather ensure it was done correctly.

He informed he had sent copies of his request to the President, Public Prosecutor General and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Adam Bodnar’s 5-year term as the Ombudsman ended on September 9, 2020. In line with the law regulating Ombudsman's work, he rightfully continues to perform his duties until his successor has been appointed.

The ruling United Right coalition had long failed to propose their own candidate for commissioner, and in the meantime, a candidate with the backing of some 1,200 social organisations across Poland - Zuzanna Rudzińska-Bluszcz - had been twice rejected by the lower house.

In January, Law and Justice MP Piotr Wawrzyk was accepted by the Sejm, but the opposition-controlled Senate later rejected him.

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Źródło: TVN24 News in English, tvn24.pl, PAP