Poland contests judicial reforms
22 July, 2017
Demonstrators took last week to the streets of Warsaw and other Polish cities to demonstrate for an independent judiciary in response to controversial reforms put forward by the conservative Polish government. Several thousand people assembled last Sunday in front of the Sejm lower house of parliament in Warsaw, chanting “Freedom! Equality! Fraternity!” and “Democracy!”
In dispute is a bill that paves the way for the 25 current members of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) to be ousted and new ones selected by parliament, rather than elected by judges. President Andrzej Duda must sign the bill for it to become law.
Despite the pressure, Poland's lower house voted last Wednesday to send the contested reform bill to a parliamentary committee, moving closer to passing a law the opposition says erodes the independence of the country's judiciary. MPs from the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party and their coalition partners passed the bill in its first reading last Tuesday.
The Commission called on Poland to put on hold judicial reforms, or face disciplinary action as early as next week. “These laws considerably increase the systemic threats to the rule of law. They would put the judiciary under full political control of the government,” First VP Frans Timmermans said.