Tuesday, July 31, 2018

State of judicial independence in Poland

See - https://www.jurist.org/news/2018/07/poland-enacts-law-allowing-government-to-appoint-supreme-court-chief-justice/

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Poland enacts law allowing government to appoint Supreme Court chief justice
JULY 27, 2018 01:39:58 PM
Lawrenz Fares

Polish President Andrzej Duba [official website] signed a proposed amendment to the Law on National Council [materials, in Polish] on Thursday that would grant the Polish government significant power in appointing Polish Supreme Court [official judiciary website] Justices.

Prior to the enactment of the amendment and a series of prior amendments, the Polish National Judiciary Council [official website, in Polish] had the power to make judicial appointments. The new procedures, however, would give the Polish Parliament, where Duda’s Law and Justice Party hold the majority, a greater say over appointments. These amendments would allow the Polish legislature, rather than the Polish judiciary, to appoint members to the National Judiciary Council. This allows the legislature and the executive to assert direct influence on the selection of Polish judges. According to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights [opinion], this serves to “jeopardize the independence of a body whose main purpose is to guarantee judicial independence in Poland.”

Thursday’s amendment was also geared specifically towards allowing the government to appoint a new Supreme Court Chief Justice. Poland’s current Supreme Court Chief Justice Małgorzata Gersdorf has previously refused to step down [CNN report] in protest of what she perceives to be an attack on the Polish judiciary.

Earlier this month, the European Commission launched [JURIST report] an infringement procedure to protect Poland’s Supreme Court from the amendments. The commission said that, if carried out, the law would violate Poland’s obligations under Article 19(1)[text] of the Treaty on European Union as well as Article 47 [text] of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

At the time of the signing, thousands of Poles protested [Reuters report] in the streets.

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