A top European human rights official says that Poland's Constitutional Tribunal has become "paralyzed" by the country's new government and that this threatens not only the rule of law and checks and balances on its power but also the human rights of Polish citizens.

Nils Muiznieks, human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, gave his assessment to reporters on Friday after four days of meetings with Polish government leaders and human rights officials in Warsaw.

He was on a regular visit meant to assess Poland's protection of human rights, but said the timing was "opportune" because it comes as the country has sparked concern in Europe over a series of measures, including changes to the Constitutional Tribunal and greater government control of public media.