13:00 GMT +317 October 2019
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    A TV camera overlooks the Wawel castle, Poland

    Poland's New Gov't Undermines Free Press, Rule of Law – US Rights Group

    © AFP 2019 / JOE KLAMAR
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    Moves by Poland’s newly elected government to alter the nation’s high court and increase control of public broadcasters threaten to shake the foundation of the nation’s democracy, the US human rights group Freedom House said in a statement on Friday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Poland’s conservative Law and Justice Party won October elections after being out of power for nearly a decade. It ran on a platform promising higher wages and appealing to traditional Catholic values.

    "These moves by Poland’s new government undermine fundamental checks and balances," said Freedom House President Mark Lagon. "The government’s taking of such radical steps in its first months and with little debate or expert input adds to concerns that its purpose is to increase power rather than strengthen rule of law."

    A measure signed into law January 7 gives the Treasury Minister the power to appoint executives in charge of public television and radio, and dismisses the broadcasters’ current management, according to Freedom House.

    The rights group also said the government had weakened the Constitutional Tribunal, the highest court, by requiring two-thirds vote to issue rulings instead of a simple majority.


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