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Venice Commission tackles Polish judicial reforms and Ukrainian education law, among other issues

Venice Commission Venice 8 December 2017
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Venice Commission tackles Polish judicial reforms and Ukrainian education law, among other issues

In an opinion on Poland adopted today, the Council of Europe’s Commission for Democracy through Law (“Venice Commission”) found that the cumulative effect of proposed reforms to two laws and recently adopted amendments to a third law “puts at serious risk” the independence of “all parts” of the Polish judiciary.  

The opinion concerns two drafts recently submitted by the Polish President to the Sejm (Polish Parliament), which amend the Act on the National Council of the Judiciary and the Act on the Supreme Court, as well as recently already adopted amendments to the Act on Ordinary Courts. 

In a second opinion on Poland, also adopted during its fourth and final plenary session of 2017, the Venice Commission concluded that the offices of the Minister of Justice and Public Prosecutor General should be separated again. A merger under a 2016 law goes too far insofar as no applicable European standards anticipate a situation in which the Public Prosecutor General is not only subordinated to the Minister of Justice, but that the Public Prosecutor General is indeed the Minister of Justice.

Regarding the Ukrainian Education Law, the Venice Commission adopted an opinion that determines that sufficient minority education training needs to be maintained, and that an unequal treatment of non-EU languages is “problematic.” While it is a legitimate aim for states to promote the strengthening of the state language and its command by all, strong domestic and international criticism drawn especially by provisions reducing the scope of education in minority languages seems justified, according to the opinion.