Poland: NGOs urge Polish President to veto bills threatening judicial independence

18/12/2017
Open Letter
Poland

FIDH, along with more than 40 Polish and international NGOs, urged Polish President Andrzej Duda to veto two legislative acts amending the rules for the functioning of the National Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court in Poland. The laws seriously threaten the independence of the judiciary, undermine the separation of powers and the rule of law in Poland. They violate the Polish Constitution and the founding principles of the European Union, as enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union.

December, 15th, 2017

Hon. Andrzej Duda
President of the Republic of Poland

Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of undersigned non-governmental organisations, yet again we appeal to you Mr. President to protect the Polish Constitution and the rule of law which it guarantees.

We call upon you, Mr. President, to veto two acts changing the functioning of the National Council of the Judiciary in Poland and the Supreme Court.

With great regret, we note that the draft acts presented by you, Mr. President, to the Parliament – as a consequence of a historical decision of July 2017 –pose a threat to the separation and independence of the justice system, and as a result to citizens’ right to justice.

The Act on the National Council of the Judiciary enables the Sejm to control the composition of an institution which is supposed to protect courts and judges from politicians. Moreover, the new Act on the Supreme Court allows for an arbitrary removal from office of some judges of the Supreme Court and creates an illusion of justice by introducing a new legal remedy in the form of an extraordinary appeal.

Mr. President, contrary to your declarations, the draft laws were not subject to wide public consultations. As a result, citizens’ right to an independent court has become a subject of a political accord whose shape was not agreed upon in cooperation with Polish citizens.

The acts fail to address the most important problems of the justice system in Poland. Quite the opposite, they pose new threats, undermining the certainty of law and court decisions issued in the last 20 years. They ruin the guarantees of judges’ independence and hand the justice system over to politicians.

At the same time, we would like to remind you, Mr. President, that in July 2017 the European Commission asked the Polish authorities notably not to take any measures to dismiss Supreme Court judges or force their retirement. If such measures were taken, the Commission stood ready to immediately trigger the Article 7(1) procedure of the Treaty on European Union.

Dear Mr. President,

The Polish citizens will bear the consequences of your signing the Acts on the National Council of the Judiciary in Poland and the Supreme Court for many years. The new acts will influence not only the shape of the Polish judiciary system, but also the position of Poland as a full-fledged member of the European Union.

Therefore, we appeal to you, Mr. President, to veto the Acts on the National Council of the Judiciary in Poland and the Supreme Court. As in July 2017, we appeal to you, Mr. President, not to disregard the heritage of the Polish fight for freedom and basic rights. At the moment, the fate of the right to a fair trial by an independent court for everybody within the jurisdiction of the Republic of Poland depends on you.

Sincerely,

Danuta Przywara
President of the board
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

1. 5zdań
2. Akcja Demokracja
3. Amnesty International
4. B.a.B.e.
5. Civil Liberties Union for Europe
6. ClientEarth Prawnicy dla Ziemi
7. Croatian Platform for International Citizen
Solidarity – CROSOL, Chorwacja
8. Documenta - Center for Dealing with the
Past, Chorwacja
9. Fair Trials International, Wielka Brytania
10. FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
11. Forum Obywatelskiego Rozwoju
12. Fundacja "Przestrzeń dla edukacji"
13. Fundacja ePaństwo
14. Fundacja Frank Bold. Polska
15. Fundacja Greenpeace Polska
16. Fundacja im. Bronisława Geremka
17. Fundacja Panoptykon
18. Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego
19. Fundacja Liberté!
20. Helsińska Fundacja Praw Człowieka
21. Human Rights First, Stany Zjednocznone
22. Human Rights House Foundation, Norwegia
23. Human Rights Watch, Stany Zjednoczone
24. Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Węgry
25. INPRIS - Instytut Prawa i Społeczeństwa
26. Instytut Spraw Publicznych
27. Klub Inteligencji Katolickiej, Warszawa
28. Komitet Obrony Demokracji
29. Kultura Niepodległa
30. Łańcuch Swiatła Poznań
31. Legal Resources Centre, Mołdowia
32. Litigation Association of NGOs Against Discrimination, Austria
33. Nederlands Juristen Comité voor de Mensenrechten (NCJM), Holandia
34. Obywatele RP
35. Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet
36. Otwarta Rzeczpospolita
37. Polskie Towarzystwo Prawa
Antydyskryminacyjnego
38. Pracownia Badań i Innowacji Społecznych Stocznia
39. Projekt:Polska
40. Rights International Spain, Hiszpania
41. Sieć Obywatelska Watchdog Polska
42. Stowarzyszenie im. prof. Zbigniewa Hołdy
43. Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej
44. Stowarzyszenie Klon/Jawor
45. Stowarzyszenie Prokuratorów Lex Super Omnia
46. Stowarzyszenie Sędziów Polskich IUSTITIA
47. Stowarzyszenie Sędziów Themis
48. Towarzystwo Prawnicze w Lublinie
49. Wolne Sądy
50. Zielony Instytut

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