Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo visited European Parliament in Strasbourg earlier this week (19 January) to defend her government’s position on controversial laws it recently approved. She is from the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party which won the majority during the elections in October last year. Poland is under increased scrutiny by the European Union since the European Commission commenced dialogue surrounding the fundamental aspects of rule of law a week ago. The new government in Poland, led by Conservative Law and Justice Party passed restrictive laws at the end of 2015 that put Polish social rights in danger.
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski conceded defeat in Sunday’s presidential elections. The exit polls showed him trailing his main challenger, Andrzej Duda, who managed to win 53% of the votes. The result marks a significant blow to the ruling Civic Platform and its leader and Prime Minister, Ewa Kopacz. Ripple effects are expected to be felt in the more important parliamentary elections due later this year. In Poland the Head of State has limited powers in comparison to the Prime Minister but Andrzej Duda may well promote a more skeptical approach towards the European Union and lay the groundwork for a right-wing win in the upcoming parliamentary elections
The Brits and the Poles have voted last week in parliamentary and presidential elections, respectively. But if anything unites these two European elections, it is the way they illustrate the hollowing of the democratic process. While conservatives tout more of the same, the Left… Well, what Left?
The European Court of Human Rights has confirmed that the Polish government was complicit in the CIA’s secretive programme of rendition, detention and interrogation. The Court in Strasbourg rejected a challenge from the Polish government to a landmark ruling from last July, a decision which now makes that original judgement final. July’s judgment said that two current Guantánamo inmates, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, were held in a CIA prison in Poland, that they had been subject to torture, and that Poland failed in its duty under European human rights law to protect them or investigate what happened.
Returning from a visit to the United States, where he took part in the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, the Belgian Security and Home Affairs Minister, Jan Jambon, announced this week the creation of a new database on jihadists. The database will include information on the 380 persons known to have connections with terrorists groups affiliated with ISIS. A delicate balance needs to be struck between law enforcement and respect for human rights.