Recommendations for U.S. officials attending Warsaw NATO Summit 2016
Since the right-wing Law and Justice Party took office in Poland after the October 25, 2015 election the Polish government has begun passing legislation that threatens the rule of law and fundamental human rights. Having gained a wide margin of support in the Polish Parliament—only 14 seats away from a super-majority in the Sejm (lower house) —and with President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Beata Szydlo firmly supportive of its policies, Law and Justice is implementing policies that fundamentally threaten what was once considered one of the firmest democracies in Central Europe and a key democratic ally of the United States. Law and Justice is wielding its power over the executive and legislative branches to threaten the judiciary, hampering its ability to review challenges to its recently-passed actions and policies.
These new policies concern the make-up of the Constitutional Tribunal, the laws governing its decision-making, laws governing media control and publishing, laws governing police powers and surveillance generally, and the current law regarding anti-terrorist activity. These laws have been passed on a very short timeframe and with little, if any, consultation with the public, civil society, or even discussion within the parliament itself.