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PiS on the failure to appoint the “lex Tusk” commission: “there is a change in the legal status.” It’s not true

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“It would not make sense”, “an amendment has been received”, “there is a change in the legal status” – this is how PiS politicians explain the fact that their club did not submit candidates to the commission for examining Russian influence. Lawyers explain that there was a statutory obligation and the deadline was not met.

From May 31, the Act on the State Commission for the Study of Russian Influences on the Internal Security of the Republic of Poland in the years 2007-2022 – called “lex Tusk” – has been in force. On its basis, a commission to investigate Russian influences can be established. However, this commission has not yet been established, no candidates have even been submitted to it, for which the MPs’ clubs had until June 14. Representatives of the opposition clubs of the Left and PSL they saidthat they will not submit candidates, similarly in May announced deputy chairman of the Civic Coalition club Marcin Kierwiński. Why didn’t the parliamentary Law and Justice club do it? According to PiS politicians, this will happen only after the amendment to the act submitted on June 2 by President Andrzej Duda comes into force, and which will only be discussed by the Senate.

Ryszard Terlecki, deputy speaker of the Sejm and chairman of the PiS club, spoke in this spirit on the day of the statutory deadline (recall, June 14). asked on Radio Pluswhether PiS will submit candidates to the committee, he replied that it would make no sense if the amendment proposed by the president will be adopted (bold in this and subsequent paragraphs from the editor), assuming that deputies and senators will not be able to be members of the committee. “It would not make sense to elect committee members from parliament today,” he concluded.

On the same day in the evening, PiS parliamentarians argued in a similar way in “Mimienna 20” on TVP Info. “You had an obligation to appoint members of the commission, because the deadline is today, so you are consciously breaking the provisions of the law that you adopted yourself” – Przemysław Koperski, a member of the Left, addressed them. “Why are you manipulating? You’re just lying,” Violetta Porowska, a PiS MP, accused him. “You, in turn, are lying” – echoed Ireneusz Zyska, PiS MP and at the same time Deputy Minister of Climate and Environment. “There is an obligation to appoint (referring to the candidates – editor’s note) today, or not?” Koperski asked. Porowska denied it several times. “Because the President’s amendment has been received“- replied the PiS MP and asked Koperski how many years he was an MP that he did not know the law. “Please do not compromise yourself with the lack of knowledge” – she addressed him. “The president made the amendments. Today, the Committee on Internal Affairs and Administration adopted these amendments – as the deputy said – unanimously. Committee [do spraw badania rosyjskich wpływów] will be appointed in accordance with the procedure after the amendment of this Act” – said Deputy Minister Zyska, admitting at the same time that the bill is not a binding law. “There is still the spirit of the law. There is an interpretation of the law. In addition, there is a purposefulness of certain actions taken” – argued the deputy minister to the allegations of failure to meet the deadline.

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On the other hand, on June 15, i.e. the day after the deadline for submitting candidates in “Dots over i” on TVN24 PiS MP Kazimierz Smoliński, when asked why this was not done, replied that “there is a change in the legal status“. As he said, the parliamentary committee adopted the amendments. To the attention that the amendment was only adopted by the parliamentary committee for administration and internal affairs, he replied: “But tomorrow there will be a vote.” And indeed, the Sejm on June 16 adopted the presidential amendment.

Let us recall the most important dates: on May 29, Andrzej Duda signed the bill passed by the Sejm the law “lex tusk”. A day later, it was published in the Journal of Laws and entered into force on May 31. It says, among other things, that candidates for the committee are presented by deputies’ or parliamentary clubs within 14 days of its entry into force, i.e. by June 14. June 2, president submitted an amendment. It assumes, among other things, that members of the committee cannot be parliamentarians, and if their candidacy has already been submitted, there will be no vote on it; if they are already in its composition, their membership expires. The Sejm worked on this amendment, a number of amendments were proposed. It was finally passed on June 16. 235 deputies voted for, 5 against, 9 abstained. 211 deputies did not vote.

The adopted wording of the act says, among other things, that if no candidates for committee members have been presented within the original deadline (we know that this has not happened), the deputies’ and parliamentary clubs indicate potential members within the deadline indicated in the decision of the Marshal of the Sejm. However, the amendment has not yet entered into force. Now the Senate will work on it.

To sum up the legal status for today: we have an act adopted, signed by the president and published in the Journal of Laws, which indicated a specific date by which candidates had to be submitted to the commission. We also have an amending act, which is still being worked on in the parliament, which indicates, among other things, that applications will be made later. What now? Is it necessary to wait until the work on the amendment is completed and the amended act enters into force, and only then nominate candidates for members, and then appoint a commission – what is the message of PiS representatives? Experts have no doubt that absolutely not.

Experts: “lex Tusk” is binding law. The clubs broke the rule

“In Poland, only applicable statutes constitute the law. You cannot avoid their application, expecting a change in the legal system, especially since it is never certain that a given amendment will enter into force” – explains Dr. Mateusz Radajewski in the analysis sent to us. constitutionalist from SWPS University. Dr. Kamil Stępniak, a constitutionalist from the University of Warsaw, sees it in the same way. “The Law on the Commission for the Study of Russian Influences has been passed, so it should be applied – it is a binding law and it must be implemented. The amendment in progress does not suspend the obligation to implement the law currently in force” – notes the person we asked for a comment (emphasis in bold).

Dr. Radajewski points out that the parliamentary clubs failed to fulfill their obligation to submit candidates to the commission within the required period. Recall that pursuant to Art. 49 of the Act had time to do so within 14 days from the entry into force of the Act, i.e. until June 14. “This provision has been violated and the persons organizing the work of these clubs are responsible for it. As a consequence of this omission, other provisions of this act have not been implemented (e.g. organizing a vote in the Sejm by the Marshal of the Sejm, appointing the chairman of the committee by the Prime Minister), however, due to the fact that their implementation has become impossible due to the passivity of the clubs’ actions, these bodies cannot be attributed to a violation of the law” – the expert believes.

To sum up: according to the lawyers, it was simply necessary to apply the applicable law, i.e. submit candidates to the commission by June 14, and it was impossible to justify the presidential amendment.

Main photo source: PAP/Leszek Szymanski

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