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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » January 16, 2008
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Committee Day
January 16, 2008   
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The lower house of parliament decided to set up two new special committees Jan. 11. One will investigate accusations that political pressure was exerted on the security services over the past two years. The other committee, called "the Friendly State," will seek to cut all forms of bureaucracy.

The plan to set up the first of these two investigation committees caused a heated debate during which the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party protested the idea. In the end, 265 deputies voted in favor of the new committee, 157 were against and there were ten abstentions.

The committee is officially tasked with "examining accusations of illegal influence that members of the government, the police chief, the head of the Central Anticorruption Bureau and the head of the Internal Security Agency supposedly wielded on police officers, officers of the Central Anticorruption Office and the Internal Security Agency, prosecutors and other officials in the judicial system, with the intention of forcing them to exceed their powers or to fail to fulfill their duties."

Jarosław Kaczyński, former prime minister and the head of PiS, said his party would appeal the decision to set up the committee before the Constitutional Tribunal.

He cited the precedent of the tribunal's judgment on the so-called banking committee, whose task had been defined as investigating alleged irregularities in privatizations in the banking sector and other possible forms of malpractice.

PiS had come forward with the proposal to establish the banking committee during the previous parliament, but the then opposition Civic Platform (PO) party protested the move. The Constitutional Tribunal deemed the committee unconstitutional because its scope of activity had been defined too broadly. The tribunal ordered that the tasks and powers of the committee should be defined more precisely and the committee was set up once its mandate was revised.

Unlike the investigation committee, the "Friendly State" committee was approved without controversy with 428 votes for and only two abstentions. The committee will tackle regulations that hamper business. The chairman of the new committee is PO's Janusz Palikot, the man who came up with the idea of setting up such a body.
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