Tag Archives: Poland

Poland: EU Commission ups the ante on Poland over judges

The EU leadership has set a deadline for Poland to fix its law on retiring Supreme Court judges or risk a lawsuit. The dispute happens as Brussels and Warsaw are locked in a much bigger conflict over rule of law.

Protesters hold up EU and Polish flags in Warsaw (Getty Images/W. Radwanski)


The EU’s top executive body, the European Commission, announced on Tuesday that Poland now has one month to amend its controversial law that would retire 27 Supreme Court judges. If the demands are not met, the EU Commission is likely to sue Poland before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.

Last month, Poland’s ruling “Law and Justice” (PiS) party affirmed that judges would be required to retire at 65 instead of 70 years of age. The move would affect 27 of 76 Supreme Court judges, cutting short their six-year-terms, and retire the rebellious Chief Justice Malgorzata Gersdorf. The PiS says the changes are necessary to jolt the justice system, but Gersdorf and other judges describe the move as a “purge” and refuse to step down.

The EU commission has already urged Poland to change the law , which the government refused. Polish authorities also sent out a 36-page document to justify their position, and said the judges would be able to ask the Polish president for an extension of their terms.

On Tuesday, however, the EU Commission restated their criticism of the law.

“The response of the Polish authorities does not alleviate the Commission’s legal concerns,” officials said in a statement.

‘Defend’ until the end

In response, Polish officials  accused the Commission of acting “politically” and vowed to fight any court case.

“I believe we will defend our position until the end,” said deputy justice minister Lukasz Piebiak.

“We certainly don’t see any reason to abandon court reforms that are under way, and we are convinced that they will continue to be put into effect, because that is what the Polish people want.”









https://www.amnesty.org/fr/latest/news/2018/08/polands-reluctant-hero/ (FRANCAIS)

http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/2018/08/14/97001-20180814FILWWW00112-reforme-judiciaire-en-pologne-l-ue-accelere-sa-procedure-d-infraction.php (FRANCAIS)

https://www.boursorama.com/bourse/actualites/la-commission-europeenne-accentue-la-pression-sur-la-pologne-6f40c331d2f0ca5bcf20cba0b19e759e (FRANCAIS)


Poland/AI: Poland’s Reluctant Hero

August 10, 2018


Next week, the head of Poland’s Supreme Court, Chief Justice Malgorzata Gersdorf, will go to work as usual, but her week is likely to be anything but normal.

Today, rules came into force that simplify the election of her replacement. This could effectively mean that her fob key might no longer work, her name plate would no longer be on her office door and she would be forced to clear out her desk.

If this is the case, it will represent the latest chapter in battle for control over Poland’s judiciary which has been raging for many months: a battle in which Justice Gersdorf has become a reluctant figurehead.

Judge Gersdorf was catapulted into the spotlight last month, after she defied a new law that reduced the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 70 to 65. Nearly 30 Supreme Court judges were forced to retire, but, describing the changes as a ” purge of the Supreme Court conducted under the guise of retirement reform”, Judge Gersdorf turned up to work anyway. She was swept into the court house by a sea of supporters chanting “we are with you”, and has been coming into work ever since.

The European Commission launched legal proceedings to assess whether the reforms breached EU law, but in order to speed the purge over the Supreme Court, the government pushed through a further judicial amendment. This amendment, which reduced number of justices who needed to be present when a new Supreme Court President is elected, came into effect at midnight.

Judge Gersdorf has been one of the main targets of the government’s campaign against judges since 2016, when she first expressed her concerns over the future of the rule of law in Poland. She has been repeatedly attacked in the pro-government media and, in March 2017, a group of 50 MPs from the governing Law and Justice party requested that the Constitutional Court examine the legality of her appointment.

There is something particularly alarming about the erosion of the Supreme Court’s independence in Poland. Through its latest “reform”, the government has effectively put all arms of the judiciary – including the Constitutional Tribunal, National Council of the judiciary and common courts – under political control.








Poland: Polish Supreme Court turns to ECJ for help

August 2, 2018

Poland’s Supreme Court on Thursday suspended the application of a law forcing the early retirement of older judges and turned to the European Court of Justice to rule on whether recent changes to the court’s functioning violate EU rules.

The move pulls the EU’s top court into the midst of an ongoing constitutional battle in Poland, where the ruling Law and Justice party has been accused of revamping the judicial system to bring it under tighter political control. The party says the steps are needed to cleanse the justice system of corruption and ties to the old communist regime.

One of the measures passed last month imposes a retirement age of 65 on Supreme Court justices, suspending about 40 percent of its judges including its president, Małgorzata Gersdorf.

Judges wanting to stay on past that age are supposed to ask permission from President Andrzej Duda, something most have refused to do, saying it weakens the independence of the judiciary.

Gersdorf has also refused to comply, arguing the measure violates the Polish constitution, which gives her a six-year term ending in 2020.









































Poland: Polish government grilled by EU foreign ministers over judicial reforms

June 28, 2018

EU affairs ministers pressed the Polish government on Tuesday for several hours over its controversial judicial reforms. The hearing, a first in the history of the European Union, was constructive, in the words of European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans.

In December, the European Commission opened for the first time an Article 7 procedure against Poland, in response to the judicial reform led by the Conservative government, which the EU executive fears will threaten the rule of law and make the judiciary susceptible to political influences. In theory, the full application of article 7 could lead to the suspension of Poland’s voting rights in the Council; however, Hungary’s right-wing leader Viktor Orban, has said the he will veto any such measures.

Tuesday’s hearing is the first part of the procedure, which may result in a suspension of Polish voting rights in the various councils of the European Union. After a presentation by the Polish executive that Mr Timmermans described as “detailed”, each Member State had the opportunity to ask two questions during a “constructive” and “unprejudiced” interview, added the Vice-President of the Commission.

That does not mean, however, that the European Commission now believes that threats to the rule of law are unfounded, Mr Timmermans warned.









Poland: Press release on the proposed reform of the Supreme Court in Poland

June 29, 2018

LSG logo

In a press release, the Law Society of England and Wales expresses its concerns over the upcoming reform of the Polish Supreme Court that would curtail the rule of law in the country.


The new legislation is set to come into force on 3 July and may lead to the dismissal of almost 40% of existing Supreme Court’s judges, by reducing the retirement age from 70 to 65 years of age. It would also provide discretionary powers to the President of the Republic to decide over the composition of the Court. The proposed amendments are in stark violation of the principle of irremovability of judges as enshrined in regional and international law, and should therefore be halted.

The European Union is already undertaking dialogue with the Government of Poland in this regard. It is envisaged that the European Court of Justice may also have powers to take interim measures to suspend the implementation of the proposed legislative reform and prevent the suspensions of Polish Supreme Court judges foreseen after 3 July.




Poland: EU unpersuaded by Poland’s defense at rule-of-law hearing

June 27, 2018

After extraordinary meeting, national ministers and Commission officials said efforts to sanction Warsaw would continue.

EU officials said efforts to sanction Poland over alleged rule-of-law violations would continue, after Warsaw’s attempt to defend itself at an extraordinary disciplinary hearing on Tuesday failed to persuade ministers and European Commission officials.

“Let me be very clear: The systemic threat for the rule-of-law persists,” Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans said at a news conference following the hearing before the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg.

“So for us to be able to say that it no longer persists, we will need some more steps from the Polish side,” Timmermans said. “We have not had any indications of that today. But who knows — there might be indications in the near future. We remain open for that dialogue.”

The hearing against Poland was an extraordinary step, in an already extraordinary effort launched by the Commission in December to invoke disciplinary measures under Article 7 of the EU treaties, which theoretically could lead to the suspension of Poland’s voting rights in the European Council.







Poland: Reforms a serious blow to judicial independence, says UN rights expert

June 25, 2018

Image result for office of high commissioner for human rights

A UN human rights expert has criticised Poland’s efforts to reform the judiciary, saying the Government is planning a clear-out of senior judges to be replaced by magistrates recommended by a council of mostly political appointees of the current ruling majority.

“I am very worried about the far-reaching adverse effects that the reform of the judiciary is having – and will have – on the independence of Polish courts and tribunals,” said Diego García-Sayán, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, told the Human Rights Council.

“I appreciate the willingness of the Polish Government to listen to the concerns that I – along with several other international and regional institutions – have raised in relation to its judicial reform. Nevertheless, the amendments introduced by the governing majority are of a cosmetic nature, at best, and absolutely insufficient to address the serious concerns I expressed in my report,” added Diego García-Sayán, who visited Poland from 23 to 27 October 2017.

“Approximately 40 percent of Supreme Court judges, including the court’s president, could be forced to retire after 3 July 2018, before the end of their legal terms. This constitutes a serious blow to the principle of judicial independence, and a flagrant breach of the principle of irremovability of judges.”

The judges who leave the bench as a result of the lowering of the retirement age will be replaced by new judges appointed by the President of the Republic upon recommendation of the newly constituted National Council of the Judiciary, which will be largely dominated by the political appointees of the current ruling majority.

















https://www.amnesty.be/infos/nos-blogs/blog-paroles-de-chercheurs-de-defenseurs-et-de-victimes/pologne-manifestation (FRANCAIS)

“Step by step, institution by institution:” Poland’s ruling party is trying to take control of the judiciary and endangers the rule of law and EU values.

(Human Rights Watch Facebook, 26/6/18)