On Friday, a draft of amendments to the act establishing a state inquiry into Russian influence was submitted by the Polish President to the Sejm. The changes proposed by President Andrzej Duda assume, among other things, that an MP or senator will not be able to become a member of the commission, and that the decision of this body will be subject to appeal to a court of appeals. Mr. Duda signed into law the original act 4 days prior to submitting his proposal.
The law on the establishment of a commission to investigate Russian influence on the internal security of the Republic of Poland in 2007-2022 entered into force on Wednesday. Andrzej Duda signed it four days ago (on Monday, May 29) and at the same time announced that he would refer it to the Constitutional Tribunal in a subsequent procedure. This should happen by mid-June.
The law was widely opposed by experts and politicians. They argued that it violates the principles of a democratic state ruled by law, and many provisions of the constitution and is aimed at eliminating political opponents. The United States and the European Union have also expressed great concern about the regulations.
On Monday, the president announced his decision to sign the bill and, at the same time, submit it to the Constitutional Tribunal in a subsequent procedure. The law was published in the Journal of Laws on Tuesday and entered into force on Wednesday.
On Friday, during his statement at the Presidential Palace, he announced that he had prepared an amendment to this act. It will go to the Parliament on Friday, he announced.
Mr. Duda’s propositions
The amendment includes several changes, such as:
- ban on MPs and Senators being members of the inquiry,
- no possibility to interrogate people with specific functions, such as lawyers and clergy
- meetings of the inquiry are going to be public unless otherwise decided by the chair
- Stripping of the commission of its punishment powers, i.e the inquiry won’t be able to ban people it finds guilty from holding public offices
- Route of appeal through a court of appeal
Duda also said that with the amendments he submits to the act, he “strengthens the thing that is most important to him, namely the transparency of the operation of this committee.”
Virtually all activities of the committee, in particular hearings before the committee, will be public, except for exceptional situations when they concern a very high state secret clause – he said.
The president appealed to the parliament to adopt the amendment to the act as soon as possible. As he said, the quick adoption of the amendment is aimed at “straightening up” and clarifying the matter of Russian influence, and above all, to set up the commission as soon as possible. He added that it is important that “the public could see and hear as soon as possible how the issues of Russian influence on our public and economic life and on our security are explained in our country.”