European Commission defends judicial independence, taking aim at Poland's 'muzzle law'

The head of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Democrats, British Ian Liddell-Grainger (pictured), wrote a letter to Rik Daems, chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), on the controversial activities of the Open Dialogue Foundation in this organization. He is demanding action on this matter.

In the letter, Ian Liddell-Grainger from the Conservative Party emphasizes that for years the NGO Open Dialogue Foundation had unprecedented access to PACE members and premises. He claims that at least one person from the Open Dialogue Foundation is on the list of people banned from entering the Schengen area, which makes their entry to the premises even more inexplicable.

“We have always suspected that this was orchestrated by a number of MEPs, but watching their machinations posted on Twitter must be something new even for the PACE, which has already been so badly damaged by corruption in the past,” the letter reads.

The parliamentarian also published a tweet of January 25, 2021 published by Open Dialog, which reads: “The session was not public, but we [the Open Dialogue Foundation] can reveal that the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Council of Europe accepted most of our 5 amendments to the resolution on the (lack of) independence of judges in Poland. The plenum is voting tomorrow, but we thank you today: @K_Smiszek @Gasiuk_Pihowicz @MarekBorowski @barbaraanowack @KMunyama “.

Ian Liddell-Grainger points out that although the session was not public, one of the members of the PACE provided the foundation with information about its course while it lasted.

The author of the letter also notes the words “our amendments” in the tweet. “Not the amendments submitted by the deputies who were openly thanked, OUR amendments, amendments dictated by a non-transparent NGO to members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe who then faithfully carried out the order,” the letter reads.

The Brit also quotes another tweet from January 26, 2021 of the Open Dialog Foundation: “In X. ‘18 (October 2018) we solicited @PACE_News (Assembly of the Parliament of the Council of Europe) for a resolution on persecuted judges in PL (Poland) and MD (Moldova). Today it has been passed, and 3 out of 5 amendments that we have helped to draft have also passed. It is a shame what is happening in Poland, but the effectiveness feels good. “

In Linddell-Grainger’s opinion, the foundation’s tweets could represent a serious breach of the Code of Conduct or even “active corruption if these Members were paid to submit these amendments (..) on behalf of the Open Dialogue Foundation without declaring it.” He requests that the Council of Europe investigate the matter. In his opinion, it is necessary to answer the question whether there is any financial involvement between the mentioned PACE members and the Open Dialogue Foundation.

In his opinion, it should be clarified which members and entities of the Council of Europe have sponsored the access of the Open Dialogue Foundation to the headquarters of the Council of Europe in the last five years, during the PACE Session and beyond. He also indicates that the possibility of withdrawing access to the headquarters of the Council of Europe for the Open Dialog Foundation with immediate and permanent effect should be examined.

The PACE press office informed the Polish Press Agency (PAP) that the chairman had received the letter and “in due course he would reply to Mr Liddell-Grainger”. In the reply provided, it also indicated that the PACE Code of Conduct defines exactly what is expected of PACE members, “including in relation to lobbying”.

Ian Liddell-Grainger sent the letter after the issue had been discussed at a meeting of the group he chairs, who had many complaints on this matter. He indicated that he has not yet received an answer from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

“I believe that the issue of the preparation of amendments by the Open Dialogue Foundation for some PO (Civic Platform, Poland’s main opposition party) parliamentarians should be clarified not only by the secretariat of the Council of Europe, but also by the Presidium of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland (lower house of the parliament).

“In my opinion, this circumstance undermines the transparency of these deputies, since the circumstances of this cooperation were not disclosed in the statement on no conflict of interest, and thus, in my opinion, undermines their entitlement to participate in the delegation of the Republic of Poland to the Council of Europe. In the above situation, as the Head of the Polish Delegation to the Council of Europe, I will address this matter officially to the Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland with a request to take a position,” the chairman of the Polish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Arkadiusz Mularczyk told PAP.


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