Reuters International

People hold a giant Polish national flag as they take part in a march demanding their government to respect the country's constitution in Warsaw, Poland, March 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

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WARSAW (Reuters) - Recent changes to Poland's legal and institutional framework threaten human rights and undermine the rule of law, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights said on Wednesday, urging the Polish government to change course over reforms.

"Lawmakers and the government should urgently change course," Nils Muiznieks said in a statement accompanying a report which follows his regular visit to Poland in February. The commissioner said he was particularly concerned by the "prolonged paralysis" of the constitutional court.

Poland's government responded that the commissioner's report, which touches on issues such as the judicial system, media freedom, women's rights and gender equality, "lacks symmetry" and displays "selectivity."

European Union's executive arm launched an unprecedented inquiry in January into whether Poland breached rule of law standards by a move to overhaul the constitutional court that critics say effectively paralysed it.

(Reporting by Wiktor Szary; Writing by Agnieszka Barteczko)

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