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Court laws bill rejected by Senate likely to become law anyway soon

TVN24 | TVN24 News in English

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TVN24 News in English, PAP
Poland lower house adopts judiciary reform despite EU concerns
Poland lower house adopts judiciary reform despite EU concernsTVN24 News in English
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TVN24 News in EnglishPoland lower house adopts judiciary reform despite EU concerns

The Senate decided on Friday to reject court laws amendment in full and now the draft legislation will return the lower house, where the ruling PiS party has enough seats to overrule the upper chamber's decision. This is a very likely scenario, so the bill should eventually land on the president's desk. If ratified, the bill would become law, despite countless red flags waved both in Poland and internationally.

Even though the widely contested draft legislation was rejected by the upper house of the Polish parliament, it is still very likely for it to become law. It will now be referred back to the lower house, where the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has sufficient majority to overrule the Senate's decision.

PiS senators said after Friday's vote in the upper house that they had expected no other outcome, and that they hoped for the bill to be passed by the Sejm soon, in its original form.

"The bill will now return to the Sejm and I strongly believe this one simple vote to reject the Senate's motion will be swiftly carried out by the MPs, and the bill will land president's desk in its original form," PiS senator Bogdan Pęk told journalists on Friday.

PiS senator Wojciech Skurkiewicz also said the result of the vote didn't surprise him. "This was a theatre, a real spectacle, what was happening right here at the plenary hall for a few days. Unnecessary, I might add, because the majority's, formed by an exotic parliamentary coalition, only aim was to reject this bill," he said.

Deputy Justice Minister Sebastian Kaleta told journalists after the vote that it was predictable that the opposition senators wouldn't support the amendment. "We will be fighting consistently in the Sejm for this bill to be passed," he stressed.

Deputy Justice Minister Sebastian KaletaTVN24

Honour of the Senate

With Poland and the European Union at loggerheads over the reforms, the opposition is trying to use its control of the Senate to highlight a dispute that some say throws Poland's membership of the bloc into question.

"We've managed to defend the honour of the Senate and prove the Civic Coalition is capable and united," said senator Bodgan Klich (Civic Coalition), commenting on the Senate's decision to reject the amendment.

In the lower house, the opposition is strongly counting on Agreement, a ruling coalition party chaired by Deputy PM Jarosław Gowin, not to vote in support of the original bill. If the law is passed, the president would be Civic Coalition's last resort, with his right to either veto or send the legislation to the Constitutional Tribunal.

Former Justice Minister Borys Budka (Civic Coalition) on Friday said he was delighted to see the controversial amendment rejected by the upper house. "It's very important to show that, despite the government's propaganda, despite insinuations and false narration, there was and is no reform of justice system. That what's been happening in this area in the last four years is one big devastation, tailspin, longer trials and a very bad confrontation with the European Union," he added.

Former Justice Minister Borys Budka from Civic CoalitionTVN24

In president's hands

"After four years of reforming of the justice system, effects are opposite than those expected, namely waiting time for trial is longer, court fees are higher, and judges are snowed under administrative work that could be easily done by lower-level employees," the Senate Speaker Tomasz Grodzki said. "This bill is like fighting fire by pouring gasoline over the flames," he added.

He stressed that if verdicts would be no longer passed in courts, but behind the doors of political cabinets, it would mean Poland had made a great leap towards Belarus.

In his view, "it's not only about the court laws". "This was a certain civilizational battle, the senators were fully aware of that and that's why they made such decision and no other. Now the bill goes back to the Sejm, we shall see what will happen next," Grodzki said.

To the remark that all seems to suggest that lower house majority would approve the amendment once again, the Speaker of the Senate replied: "Everything will be in the hands of the president".

The Speaker of the Senate Tomasz GrodzkiTVN24

Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP

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