Concern about amendments to Polish law

Who we wrote to

The Polish president.

What’s the issue

Recent amendments to the law on common courts and the Supreme Court, as well as other legislation in Poland have raised alarm. These amendments, adopted by parliament in December 2019, undermine judicial independence and the separation of powers.

Among other things, the amendments provide that any person appointed by the president is a lawful judge and that questioning such appointment constitutes a disciplinary offence. 

The amendments also introduce new disciplinary offences and sanctions for judges, and transfer some judicial competencies to committees of court presidents who are appointed by the minister of justice.

We were informed that these amendments were passed in an expedited procedure, without appropriate consultation (even with judicial bodies), and that parliament had less than 24 hours to discuss them.

What we asked for

We call on the Polish authorities to:

  • take all necessary measures to reverse any adopted legislation and amendments that have already entered into force that can negatively affect the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law
  • ensure that any revision of the amendments and the relevant acts are in line with the international obligations and standards set out in our intervention letter
  • take no further actions, of whatever nature, that would undermine directly or indirectly the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Poland

We’ll continue to monitor the situation and support the independence of the judiciary, as well as the legal profession as a whole, in Poland.

Our international human rights adviser Dr Marina Brilman was interviewed by the Polish media about threats to judicial independence in Poland.

Our letter also featured in this video (at 2:40 minutes).

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