US senators concerned by new regulations in Poland

Three US senators send letter to Polish premier expressing their concerns about anti-democratic regulations

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Senator John McCain speaks at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 14, 2016.

Three United States senators sent a letter to Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo asking him to respect democracy, human rights and the rule of law, referring to new laws on media and the constitutional court.

Poland’s ruling right-wing national-conservative Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc - PiS) party recently packed the constitutional court with its appointees and changed the court’s voting system, curbing its ability to censure legislation.

The new legislation also allows the government to appoint public media chiefs.

This has already raised concerns in the European Commission, which began an unprecedented inquiry into whether Poland's new government, which won an outright majority in October, has breached the EU's democratic standards.

Besides John McCain, Republican senator from Arizona, two senators of the Democratic Party, Ben Cardin (Maryland) and Richard J. Durbin (Illinois) also told their concerns about the actions taken by government in the letter dated on February 10.

The letter, posted on Cardin's website, described them as having close ties to Polish-American communities in the United States.

They said Poland's actions "threaten the independence of state media and the country's highest court and undermine Poland's role as a democratic model for other countries in the region still going through difficult transitions."

"We urge your government to recommit to the core principles of the OSCE and the EU, including the respect for democracy, human rights and rule of law," the letter said.

Szydlo replied on Sunday, also in a letter, that was made available for some local media.

Szydlo blamed the former government for the situation in the constitutional court and said the new media law did not breach any European standards.

"The interest and goodwill of the American politicians cannot be changed into instructing and imposing actions concerning my fatherland," Szydlo said in the letter.

TRTWorld, Reuters