Poland's top court declares ECHR Article 6 unconstitutional

In its judgement, rendered on Thursday, the Tribunal challenged Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which allows ECHR and national courts to review the status of local judges. Albert Zawada/PAP

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) does not have the power to question the legitimacy of local judges, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has ruled.

In its judgement, rendered on Thursday, the Tribunal challenged Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which allows ECHR and national courts to review the status of local judges.

The Constitutional Court ruled that this provision was unconstitutional to the extent that it "authorises the ECHR or national courts to assess the compliance with the constitution and convention of statues related to the judiciary system, the jurisdiction of courts and the law specifying the system, procedure and method of electing members of the National Council of the Judiciary (the top judicial self-governing body - PAP)."

According to the Constitutional Tribunal, the challenged provision is also inconsistent with the Polish Constitution to the extent that "it allows the ECHR or national courts to disregard constitutional provisions, statutes and judgments of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal and enables the ECHR or national courts the independent creation of standards concerning the procedure of nominating local judges."

The judgment was issued following a motion by Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland's justice minister and prosecutor general.

In July, he asked the tribunal whether the ECHR could evaluate the legality of the appointment of Polish judges and create "the subjective right of a judge to perform an administrative function" in the structure of Poland's judicial system.