Polish Constitutional Court Holds European Arrest Warrant Unconstitutional

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Thursday, September 1, 2005
Michael Plachta
The European Arrest Warrant (EAW), the recently established procedural and organizational mechanism for delivering offenders within the European Union (EU), has caused considerable controversies since its inception. Critics of the EAW question its legal nature, its relationship to traditional extradition, its political ramifications, its place within the legal system of the EU, and, above all, its consistency with the constitutional provisions of each member state. The Constitutional Court in Poland recently tested the constitutionality of this legislation. The test failed. On April 27, 2005, the Court, sitting in full bench, delivered its opinion (P 1/05) in which it held that some of the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP) implementing the EAW in the Polish legal system are clearly contrary to the Constitution of 1997. The court specifically named Article 607t paragraph 1 of the Code to the extent in which it allows the transfer of a Polish national to another member state of the EU on the basis of an EAW issued by the competent authorities of the requesting country. This provisions runs counter to Article 55 paragraph 1 of the Constitution, which prohibits the extradition of Polish nationals. The Court ruled that this provision must be repealed within 18 months of the announcement of the judgment...[more]