Governing party wants to limit immunity of MPs and judges

The move was announced on Wednesday by Marek Ast, the head of the parliamentary committee on justice and human rights. Tomasz Gzell/PAP

Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has submitted legislation to the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, concerning changes to the Polish Constitution that will lift some of the immunity enjoyed by parliamentarians and judges.

The move was announced on Wednesday by Marek Ast, the head of the parliamentary committee on justice and human rights.

"In a situation where the consent of the Sejm and Senate is needed to bring MPs, senators and, of course, judges to criminal liability for common offences, we propose to amend Art. 105 of the Constitution on the immunity of parliamentarians, and Art. 181 of the Constitution on the immunity of judges," he said.

"We (want to - PAP) limit parliamentary immunity, de facto leaving only material immunity and waive formal immunity," Ast added.

Under the Polish Constitution, formal immunity protects MPs and senators from being held criminally responsible without the Sejm's or Senate's consent. It covers all acts committed by a parliamentarian, in particular acts other than those resulting from the exercise of a mandate and extends to the entire criminal procedure.

Parliamentarians are also covered by material immunity, which protects them from being held responsible for their activities falling within the scope of exercising their mandate (e.g. appearances in parliament, voting, legislative initiatives).

Changing the constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Sejm with at least half of all MPs voting, and an absolute majority of votes in the Senate, with at least half of them voting.

The Polish government lacks a two-thirds majority in the Polish parliament.