Duda shocks with hate speech attack on Polish judges

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Polish President Andrzej Duda’s recent remarks on judges have provoked a fierce response. “The suggestion that judges are irresponsible and ‘should be eliminated’ because otherwise ‘Poland will never be a normal country’ is an example of hate speech, which can lead to violence directed against individual judges,” writes Iustitia, the largest association of judges in Poland.



[text by Daniel Flis]

 

Polish President Andrzej Duda’s recent remarks on judges have provoked a fierce response. “The suggestion that judges are irresponsible and ‘should be eliminated’ because otherwise ‘Poland will never be a normal country’ is an example of hate speech, which can lead to violence directed against individual judges,” writes Iustitia, the largest association of judges in Poland.

 

“The Iustitia Association of Polish Judges strongly objects to the campaign of hate being conducted against judges by the incumbent President of Poland Andrzej Duda at campaign rallies in Zwoleń and Katowice.

 

The statement that courts constitute a barrier to Poland’s proper development is dishonest, and the suggestion that judges are irresponsible and ‘should be eliminated’ because otherwise ‘Poland will never be a normal country’ is an example of hate speech, which can lead to violence directed against individual judges.”

 

It should be recalled that under Article 10 of the Polish Constitution, the judiciary constitutes a third and equal power alongside the executive and the legislature.

 

An independent justice system is a fundamental guarantee of the rights and freedoms afforded to citizens under the Constitution. It is unacceptable and incompatible with the Polish legal order for the President to undermine these values,” we can read in a resolution adopted by the Board of the Association of Polish Judges “Iustitia” on 19 January.

 

“They will not dictate to us in foreign languages”

 

The resolution comes as a reaction to a speech given by President Andrzej Duda on 17 January in Zwoleń during a campaign rally, and 18 January at a meeting with members of the “Solidarity” trade union in Katowice.

 
On 17 January, he claimed that the European Union’s resistance to the courts being taken over by politicians was a threat to Poland’s sovereignty. He said:

 
“Today, they are pulling out all the stops to deprive us of our right to have an honest and good justice system, to fix it. We will not let others decide for us. We Poles have the right to decide about our own country, our own laws – that is why we fought for democracy.

 

They will not come here and impose on us in foreign languages the political system we are supposed to have in Poland, or tell us how Polish matters are to be handled. Yes, we are in the European Union, and we are very happy that this is so, but first and foremost we are in Poland.”

 

(a recording of the gathering is available on the Facebook page of the Polish President).

 

This was a reaction to the Venice Commission’s opinion issued 16 January on the “muzzle act” designed to make it easier for disciplinary officers loyal to Zbigniew Ziobro to silence judges that refuse to show deference to PiS-affiliated politicians.

 

This reaction, as we have written elsewhere, was out of touch with reality. The request for the Venice Commission to give its opinion was an expression of trust in our European partners, and the position taken by the European Commission flows from Poland’s membership in the EU. There are fragments in “foreign languages,” but also in Polish.

 

“Purify our Polish home”

 

On Saturday 18 January 18, Andrzej Duda appeared together with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at an event (in an exclusively men’s “beer tavern”) organised in Silesia by “Solidarity”. There he criticized independent judges speaking out in defence of independent courts.

 

“Judges are indeed a special social group. They have their privileges, but they also have concrete obligations to society and tremendous responsibility. If it turns out that one of them is unable to fulfil this responsibility, then such a person should be eliminated immediately. And this is what judges themselves should do. Some of them do not want changes, because apparently they are comfortable with their privileges and immunities,” said Duda.

 

He stressed that Poland will not be “a fully normal and democratic state without a fair and honest justice system”.

 

“I ask for your support because, as you can see, the situation is difficult. They have their international influence, they have their colleagues, their people in tribunals and other places. They spout nonsense, they deny facts that they don’t want to face. They claim that someone wants to destroy the justice system in Poland. And there are still people among them who adjudicated during the time of martial law and sentenced people to prison for fighting for a free Poland,” said Andrzej Duda.

 

Duda also spoke of “purifying Poland”, words which on Saturday outraged not only judges.

 

“Judges must understand what their role in the Polish state is. It’s a pity that many professors at law faculties of Polish universities don’t want to understand this.

 

I hope that we succeed in breaking down this resistance and that, just as we managed to defeat communism, we will be able to purify our Polish house entirely, so that it will be clean, orderly and beautiful, and will continue to grow strong,” said Duda.

 

Night-time repression

 

Criticism of these words published on Twitter by judge Jarosław Ochocki of the District Court in Poznań triggered an immediate reaction of the deputy disciplinary officer for judges, Ziobro nominee Piotr Radzik.

 

At around 6:00pm on Saturday 17 January, Ochocki tweeted:

 

“Mister Duda! I take full responsibility for what I write. You are a bad person, a worthless president, spreading hate to achieve your political and partisan ends. You’re hurting Poland! Judge Jarosław Ochocki.”

 

By Saturday night-time, Radzik had already initiated an investigation against Ochocki. He has accused Ochocki of insulting the president and disgracing the office of judge.



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Everything you need to know about the rule of law in Poland


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January 24, 2020

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