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Helsinki Foundation releases report detailing how Polish judges are impacted by judicial system changes

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has released its report titled “The Time of Trial”, based on interviews with judges in Poland who explain how changes by the Law and Justice-led government have impacted them in their work.

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Slovakian president appeals for observance of rule of law in Visegrad Group and queries Poland’s president on changes to justice system

During an official visit to Budapest and Warsaw, Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová reminded the Central European leaders that the rule of law was one of the fundamental values of the Visegrad Group. She called for an end to the violation of the rule of law, which weakens the position of the eastern Member States in the EU. She also asked Poland’s president asked about the status of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court.

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European Commission presents proposals for strengthening rule of law – Poland’s government reacts

The European Commission has initiated the second stage of proceedings concerning the new disciplinary system for judges in Poland. On the same day, the Commission announced a new packet of measures for the rule of law. The Commission wants to prevent and respond more effectively to infringements of Treaty values in Member States and plans to support NGOs in promoting a rule of law culture. The Polish government is taking a dim view of most of the proposed solutions.

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Forced transfer as harassment and “disciplinary measure”

The forced transfer of acclaimed prosecutor Mariusz Krasoń from the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Cracow to a lower-ranked office in Wroclaw has generated controversy among prosecutors and other legal professionals in Poland. The decision was issued after the prosecutor Krasoń participated in the drafting of a document highlighting defects in the current system earlier this year. A number of organizations and individuals, including the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, have expressed their support for prosecutor Krasoń and criticized the decision of the National Prosecutor, Bogdan Święczkowski.

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Judges across Poland refusing to work with the neo-KRS. Łętowska: “It’s not a boycott, but a precaution”

The assemblies of judges of all appellate courts in Poland have no intention of issuing opinions on candidates for judicial posts. They are refusing to cooperate with the new KRS, because the EU Court of Justice will soon rule whether it was established in accordance with EU law. “We have heard the negative opinion of the Advocate General. Common sense dictates that we avoid deepening the legal chaos,” comments Ewa Łętowska

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ABA: In Poland, Erosion of Judicial Independence Continues

The American Bar Association (ABA), one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations with over 400,000 members, is monitoring the independence of the judiciary in Poland. On July 8-9, 2019, the ABA President Bob Carlson visited Warsaw to meet with lawyers, judges and prosecutors as well as civil society to engage in discussion on the rule of law in Poland and threats to judicial independence.

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The History of the 48-Hour Lawsuit: Democratic Backsliding, Academic Freedom, and the Legislative Process in Poland

On 15 June 2019 the Polish Ministry of Justice announced on its website that the Ministry would sue a group of lawyers from the Cracow Institute of Criminal Law, who criticized draft amendments to the Criminal Code. The Ministry of Justice argued that the opinion contained lies about the amended rules concerning liability for corruption conducted by managers of public companies. The experts strongly rejected the Ministry’s allegations. On Monday afternoon the Minister of Justice announced that the lawsuit is “no longer needed” and that the Ministry withdrew their idea. The case of “48-hours-lasting lawsuit” touches upon two fundamental issues: academic freedom and the quality of the legislative process.

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Attacks on CJEU Advocate General after his crushing assessment of PiS-led judicial “reforms”

The Minister of Justice feels that the opinion of the Advocate General of the EU Court of Justice Evgeni Tanchev is incompatible with EU law and constitutes a “defence of pathology in the Polish judiciary.” If the CJEU concurs with the Advocate General’s opinion, following the judgment Poland will have to select a new National Council of the Judiciary. Changes will also be necessary in other EU Member States.

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PiS amendments to the Act on the Supreme Court in breach of EU law. “A symbolic, historical judgement”

“The Law on the Supreme Court was contrary to EU law”, ruled the Court of Justice on 24 June. According to the CJEU, the rules shorting judges’ term of office infringed the principle of their irremovability and judicial independence. The Court is in doubt about the real objectives of the PiS-led judiciary reform. More judgments will be issued shortly.

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A report on the state of the rule of law in Europe

In June of this year, professor Laurent Pech of Middlesex University London and professor Dimitry Kochenov of University of Groningen issued a reflection paper on the current state of the rule of law in the European Union titled “Strengthening the Rule of Law Within the European Union: Diagnoses, Recommendations, and What to Avoid”.

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