In a letter addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, made public today, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović raises her concerns about risks to the continuity and the effective functioning of the Polish Ombudsman institution. A constitutional challenge to the legal provision allowing the current Ombudsman to continue to exercise his functions between the expiry of his mandate and the election of his successor, combined with the delay in the process of electing a new Ombudsman, have created a serious risk that this important constitutional body may be left without a head of institution for an unknown period of time. In this context, the Commissioner recalls that, under the Venice Principles, states are obliged to protect Ombudsman institutions effectively from threats or action aiming at or resulting in their suppression or in any hurdles to their effective functioning.
Commissioner Mijatović invites the Polish authorities to provide information about how they intend to ensure that the independence and continuity of the Ombudsman institution remain fully protected. “It is crucially important first and foremost for Polish citizens but also for Poland’s international partners to be able to count on the expertise of an independent and effective Ombudsman institution fully compliant with international standards, including the Paris Principles and the Venice Principles”, she writes.