Poland criticized for recent judicial reforms
June 30, 2019
In a country visit report published Friday, Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, said the Polish government needs to do more to preserve judicial independence, citing “wide-ranging judicial reforms [which] have met with serious concern” from stakeholders.
The Commissioner’s report is the culmination of a five day visit in which “the Commissioner held discussions on the independence of the judiciary and the prosecution service as well as issues pertaining to the rights of women, gender equality and domestic violence.”
Mijatović noted that Poland’s wide-ranging judicial reform has had a major impact on the country’s justice system. Since taking office in 2015 Poland’s Eurosceptic Law and Justice (PiS) party has enacted judicial reforms that many have said are “endangering the rule of law, democracy and human rights.” The reforms have impacted the effectiveness of the Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal, the country’s judicial body established to adjudicate disputes on the constitutionality of the activities of state institutions.
The commissioner expressed serious concerns with the independence of the judiciary and the prosecutorial service under the current system and ongoing reforms. Specifically noting the “publicly-financed campaign to discredit judges as well as negative statements made by high-ranking officials, the Commissioner recalled that members of the executive and the legislature have a duty to avoid criticism that would undermine the independence of or public confidence in the judiciary and urged the Polish authorities to exercise responsibility and to lead by example in their public discourse.”
The Commissioner urged the Polish authorities to take steps to resolve deadlock between the Constitutional Tribunal and the Executive Branch, “by recognising the legitimacy of the election of the three judges by the previous Sejm and by re-establishing dialogue and cooperation between the Constitutional Tribunal and other constitutional bodies.” (The Sejm is the lower-house of the Polish Parliament, responsible for choosing the 15 judges that make up the Constitutional Tribunal.)
Additionally, Mijatović noted serious concerns regarding the lowering of the retirement age for Supreme Court and Supreme Administrative Court, in which several judges were forcibly removed. A sentiment echoing the ruling of an EU Court on Monday, which held the lowering of the retirement age as contrary to EU law and principle.
The report also raised concerns for the lack of action toward addressing “a key judgment against Poland on access to abortion and the related care.” Mijatović noted “repeated attempts to further restrict Poland’s already very restrictive legislation governing access to abortion, including a bill currently pending in the Polish Parliament” which “seeks to roll back women’s access to their sexual and reproductive rights.”
The report indicates satisfaction with Poland’s average gender pay gap, which is among the lowest in the EU, but invites officials to “take measures to prevent and combat sexism and its manifestations in the public and private spheres.”
According to the report, violence against women and domestic violence is another area in which Poland is encouraged to act. The main concern is regarding the “abrupt and/or unexplained interruption of access to central government funding which affected several well-established and reputable women’s rights organisations, in recent years.” Mijatović “invites authorities to take steps to increase public awareness about domestic violence and to do more to identify and promote champions of women’s rights and gender equality. She also encourages all politicians and opinion-makers to give vocal support to the advancement of women’s rights, gender equality, and the fight against domestic violence.”
Council of Europe calls for Poland to promote greater transparency
January 29, 2019
The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) on Monday published an evaluation reporturging Poland to promote greater transparency among persons exercising top executive functions.
According to the report, 58 percent of Poles consider corruption widespread. Cases of integrity issues concerning both the police and senior government officials have been reported at regular intervals.
GRECO suggests that an overarching policy and comprehensives rules of conduct accompanied by implementation support measures is needed. A central register would make information more transparent and would strengthen Poland’s arrangements for the declaration of assets. Other recommendations concern the transparency of the government’s legislative process and the rules on access to information, which should be further developed and equipped with an effective appeal mechanism to ensure their effectiveness.
The report further suggests that Poland needs to establish an objective and transparent system for the appointment, promotion and dismissal of all senior managers in the Police and Border Guards. Methods include establishing a proper and reliable risk assessment to assist in the definition of future integrity policies; a rapid clarification of the Internal Supervisory Office’s respective responsibilities and leadership functions; clear and effective rules regarding the disclosure of crimes and misconduct; and the protection of reporting persons.
Poland: ICJ applauds Supreme Court’s defence of the rule of law
August 21, 2018
The ICJ and its Polish Section (ICJ Poland) today expressed their support for the actions of the Supreme Court to defend the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Poland, including by recourse to the European Court of Justice (CJEU).
This happened in the face of repeated attack by political figures and authorities. Leer el resto de esta entrada »
European Commission sends Poland ‘reasoned opinion’ on judicial retirement law
August 15, 2018
The European Commission sent a “reasoned opinion” [press release] to the Polish government Tuesday over the new law [JURIST report] lowering the mandatory retirement age of the Polish Supreme Court from 70 to 65. Leer el resto de esta entrada »
European Commission launches infringement procedure against Poland judiciary law
July 03, 2018
The European Commission launched [press release] an infringement procedure on Monday to protect Poland’s Supreme Court from a judiciary law that would force one-third of its judges to retire.
The law drops the retirement age from 70 to 65, which will require 27 out of 72 judges to retire, including “the First President of the Supreme Court, whose 6-year mandate would be prematurely terminated.” Judges may request their mandates be prolonged for a period of up to three years, but no criteria is in place to guide President Andrzej Duda in making those decisions. The law further affects the composition of the National Council for the Judiciary (NCJ) [official website], giving parliament power to appoint judges to the NCJ, which contradicts European standards on judicial independence. Leer el resto de esta entrada »
Poland approves judicial reform legislation as EU warns of rule of law violations
December 20, 2017
[JURIST] Polish President Andrzej Duda signed judicial reform legislation[materials, in Polish; materials, in Polish] Wednesday, placing control over the courts into the hands of the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party.
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Corte reivindicó la justicia indígena
La Corte Constitucional, para proteger las comunidades indígenas, declaró inexequible un aparte de una ley que está vigente desde el siglo XIX.
Se trata de Ley 89 de noviembre 16 de 1890 “por la cual se determina la manera como deben ser gobernados los salvajes que se reduzcan a la vida civilizada”, que entre otras indicaciones, mantenía vivo en el ordenamiento, para que los alcaldes y otras autoridades administrativas, “la competencia para dirimir conflictos surgidos entre indígenas de una misma comunidad étnica, o entre estos y el cabildo de la respectiva comunidad”, según indica el comunicado de la Corte.
Y agrega que “esa situación, desconoce el derecho fundamental de las comunidades indígenas de resolver los asuntos internos mediante la aplicación de normas y procedimientos propios”.
A pesar de que tumba el aparte de esa norma, es particular que una norma de este tipo se siga aplicando en Colombia, más aún, que la Corte no haya ido más allá y haya declarado inconstitucional toda la norma. Es algo que en su salvamento de voto indicó el magistrado Jorge Iván Palacio Palacio. “Tal declaración ha debido extenderse a toda la Ley 89 de 1890, por contrariar abiertamente la autonomía de los pueblos indígenas”.
Se trata de una norma que el Gobierno ha venido analizando para determinar si se trata de una “ley inútil” y se debería derogar, toda vez que ya se estaría aplicando en el territorio o habría perdido vigencia. Leer el resto de esta entrada »