TVN24 News in English

TVN24 News in English

Either the President will go down in history as a great figure, as one of the leaders of the good change, as a man who contributed to building a strong and fair state in Poland, or we have lost,” said Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro, commenting on Andrzej Duda's decision to veto two bills on the judiciary branch.

The announcement of two presidential vetoes has not calmed down the protesters who still – although on a much lesser scale – went to the streets of Polish cities. The demonstrators contest the judicial reforms about to be introduced by the Law and Justice party. On Tuesday evening, they gathered in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Szczecin, Wrocław, Krakow, Białystok and Łódź, just to name some.

"The President has signed the amendment to the law on common courts,” announced the President’s deputy chief of staff Paweł Mucha. He added that this was the part of the reform of the judiciary branch with the greatest impact on the interests of citizens.

“Andrzej Duda will sign the act on common courts,” said the President’s spokesman Krzysztof Łapiński. Changes in the way head judges are appointed and dismissed, which will give the Minister of Justice greater power, and the imposition of random assignment of cases to judges are the two most important provisions of the amended act.

"We, senators, have a duty towards the new generation: to answer whether Poland’s symbol will be a prison garb or a white rose," said Senator Jan Rulewski during the Senate debate on the Supreme Court bill. The Civic Platform senator participates in the debate dressed in a prison garb. When speaking, he even used a metal cup such as those used by inmates. As the committee’s minority rapporteur, he spoke in favor of rejecting the Supreme Court bill.

"Is there no limit to hypocrisy and mockery? Down with the scoundrels," Deputy Minister of the Interior and Administration, Jarosław Zieliński, wrote on Twitter. This was his assessment of Thursday's protests in the streets of many cities against the act on the Supreme Court, drafted by the Law and Justice party (PiS) and passed by parliament. Minister of the Interior and Administration, Mariusz Błaszczak, also commented on the demonstrations, saying that he "noticed many strollers among the protesters."

After stormy deliberations, the Justice Committee of the Sejm rejected in block voting all amendments to the draft law on the Supreme Court proposed by the opposition. Amendments proposed by PiS were approved. Members of the opposition protested against block voting. The voting procedure was received with shouts of "ORMO, ZOMO, censorship," "No consent to such methods," "You’re making Kaczyński a dictator." Towards the end of the meeting there was a scuffle over Stanisław Piotrowicz's microphone. Some MPs sang the national anthem.

"This is not lawmaking. This is pushing through a bill that was drafted in unclear circumstances, in obscure circles. A bill that has hardly been amended. A bill that violates the fundamental principles of the Constitution. This is very poor lawmaking," Professor Marek Chmaj, a constitutional expert, comments on what happened in the Sejm last night.

Last week the amendment of the Act on the National Judiciary Council and the amendment of the Law on the Court System became the focal point for disputes regarding the judiciary system in Poland. A bill on the Supreme Court penned by the Law and Justice (PiS - Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) government was also submitted to the parliament (Sejm). The first two documents have been ratified and are presently waiting for the President’s signature. The bill on the Supreme Court that evinced protests attended by many thousands of people in several of Poland’s cities was sent to a parliamentary commission for further legislative work.

The law on the National Council of the Judiciary passed by the Polish Parliament and drafted by the ruling Law and Justice party, the amended law on the Polish judicial system and the law on the Supreme Court that is currently awaiting amendments have been met with criticism of the judiciary and legal communities and commented by the European institutions as well. "This legislation (…) may undermine the separation of powers in Poland" – the European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, wrote to the Polish President, Andrzej Duda. Frans Timmermans, on the other hand, threatened to trigger Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union on Poland.

“As long as the late Lech Kaczyński was alive, you did not dare raise your hand against the judicial branch,” Borys Budka, an MP from the Civic Platform (PO), said on Tuesday night at the Sejm. Jarosław Kaczyński, chairman of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), responded to his words by saying: “Do not wipe your treacherous mouths with the name of my late brother, you attacked him, you murdered him, you scoundrels.”