Judges from several European countries protested today in Warsaw together with their Polish colleagues in defense of the separation of powers and against the judicial reform promoted by the Government of Poland of the nationalist force Law and Justice, which aims to punish magistrates who publicly question this measure.
“This protest is important not only for Polish judges, but also for judges across Europe,” said the president of the European Association of Administrative Courts Judges, Edith Zeller.
Zeller stood at the head of the delegation of magistrates from fourteen countries (Holland, Austria, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Portugal, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Romania, Estonia and Ireland) to demonstrate alongside Polish judges in front to the headquarters of the Supreme Court of Warsaw.
THE NEW LAW PROPOSES SANCTIONS AGAINST THE MOST DISCOLIC JUDGES
The protest is a reaction to the last episode of the judicial reform undertaken by Law and Justice, a norm approved on December 20 by the Polish Parliament (controlled by this nationalist formation) that contemplates disciplinary sanctions for the judges reluctant to accept the changes promoted For the ruling party.
Specifically, the controversial law proposes sanctions, including termination, for those magistrates who question the legality of the appointments resulting from judicial reform and for those who participate in public activities that may undermine the position of judicial neutrality.
ASSOCIATIONS OF JUDGES AND NGOs ALERT THE END OF JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE IN POLAND
“The changes would leave the limited freedom that Polish courts still enjoy under the political control of the executive branch, which will mean the end of the separation of powers and a threat to European values that we also share in Poland,” he told Efe. the head of the Polish organization of judges Iustitia, Krystian Markiewicz.
Since 2015, the year in which Law and Justice achieved its first victory by an absolute majority, the Polish Government has introduced a series of legislative and political reforms that “have undermined the independence of the judiciary,” Amnesty International’s head told Efe. country, Draginja Nadazdin.
Among these changes, Nadazdin denounced, the politicization in the appointment of magistrates is highlighted by giving the Ministry of Justice the exclusive power to appoint and dismiss judges, as well as the advancement of the retirement age for members of the Supreme Court.
The rule that regulates the disciplinary regime of the magistrates has yet to be approved by the Senate (controlled by the opposition) before entering into force, which provides for a long parliamentary process before receiving the green light.
EU accuses POLAND OF VULNERATING THE SEPARATION OF POWERS
The European Union (EU) has repeatedly accused the Polish Government of politicizing the judiciary, while Warsaw argues that its reform is necessary to overcome a system of justice “inefficient and anchored in the structure inherited from the communist period.”
Poland’s decisions to increase control of political power over the administration of justice and the media have been criticized by the European Commission, which considers that this country violates the rule of law and democratic principles with its reforms.
In an unprecedented step, Brussels decided in 2017 to activate the procedure of Article 7 of the European Treaty against Poland, which could even lose its right to vote in the European Union.