Polish judges and experts protest against latest government plans to reform courts

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Poland's govt seeks right to fire judges who question court reformsTVN24 News in English
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Polish judges could be sacked if they question the legitimacy of judicial reforms, under draft legislation that the nationalist government has introduced, in a move set to deepen a row between Brussels and Warsaw over democratic standards. Many Polish judges and legal experts protest against the planned reforms and dismiss them as further violation of the constitution and EU law.

Legendary Polish jurist, Professor Adam Strzembosz, said that "you cannot shoot yourself in the foot worse". The former Chief Justice added that Poland has created perfect circumstances for the EU Commission to file another lawsuit in the CJEU. "It's not just about violating third-rate regulations, but rather the very essence of Poland's EU membership," said Mr Strzembosz.

The EU has accused the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party of politicising the judiciary ever since it came to power in 2015. PiS argues that the reforms are necessary to make Poland's courts more efficient.

"The main goal is to make judges lose courage to even think about their own interpretation of the constitution or EU law," said Poland's Commissioner for Human Rights, Adam Bodnar in TVN24's "Fakty po Faktach". According to him, the new draft law by PiS is "something that stands in absolute contradiction to both the constitution and the European law" and "an attempt to divert attention from what is really most important".

PiS wants to prevent judges from ruling that peers nominated by a panel set up under new rules drawn up by parliament are not independent.

"I don't want to defend particular provisions because I think we must still work on them," said the presidential aide Paweł Mucha in TVN24's "Tak jest", commenting on the draft law PiS put forward. He reassured that he wans't a coauthor of the project. "It's true, however, that some elements of this legislation, certain direction of law changes are being approved," he added.

The EU's top court said last month it was up to Poland's Supreme Court to decide whether the panel was independent, and the Supreme Court has ruled that in its view the panel was neither impartial nor independent.

"(We are taking) action aimed at banning challenging he status of other judges, which may lead to anarchy," government spokesman Piotr Muller told public TV.

"We have a disciplinary responsibility here, and finally even (the possibility of) removing judges from their posts," he said, commenting on the bill posted on parliament's website late on Thursday.

The legislation, which parliament will discuss next week, also stipulates that judges must inform their superiors of past membership of political parties and of their activity in non-governmental organisations and on social media.

"There is one aim: to eliminate judges from the public debate. This is a bill to silence those judges who ... think some solutions infringe the rule of law," Supreme Court spokesman judge Michał Laskowski told private radio TOK FM.

"If those changes were to come into effect, we would not have Belarus here, but Turkey," judge Igor Tuleya, one of the most outspoken critics of PiS reforms, told TVN24.

Moves by Hungary and Poland to bring their courts and media under tighter state control have led the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, to begin rule-of-law investigations that could in theory lead to a suspension of their EU voting rights.

Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP, Reuters