(CoE / red) – The co-rapporteurs for a report of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the functioning of democratic institutions in Poland, Azadeh Rojhan Gustafsson (Sweden, SOC) and Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands, EPP/CD), have expressed their deep regret at the signing into law by President Duda of the controversial amendments to the Law on the Common Courts and the Law on the Supreme Court, as well as several other laws, despite repeated calls from the international community, including the Assembly, not to do so.
These amendments, among other things, introduce a whole series of new disciplinary offenses for judges and prohibit, under threat of severe disciplinary punishment, the questioning by another court or judge of the legitimacy of any judge appointed by the President of Poland, contravening recent rulings of the Polish Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union. In other words, the independence of Justice has been abolished.
“In Resolution 2316 (2020) adopted on 28 January 2020 on the basis of our report, the Assembly expressed its deep concern about these amendments, which further undermine the independence of the judiciary and respect for the rule of law in Poland. We deeply deplore the signing into law by President Duda of these amendments, which are often referred to as a “muzzle law”. This underscores the need for the opening of a full monitoring procedure with regard to Poland, as decided by the Assembly last week,” said the rapporteurs.
On 28 January 2020, concerned about Poland’s backsliding with regard to the independence of the judiciary and respect for the rule of law, PACE decided to open a monitoring procedure in respect of Poland until its concerns are addressed in a satisfactory manner.
It is of paramount importance to stop this evolution in Poland which threatens the basic rights of the Polish citizens, allowing politics to put pressure on judges in order to obtain the judgments they want. Once again, the Council of Europe fights to preserve democracy in Europe and it is appalling to see that this is necessary.