Polish judges demand apology from Prime Minister over comparison to Nazi collaborators
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki compares current judiciary reforms in Poland to legal cleansing in France after the Second World War
Mr Morawiecki made his remarks at The Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law & Justice at New York University School of Law event “Europe and the United States: A Transatlantic Dialogue – Poland’s 15 years in the European Union” on 17 April 2019.
In his remarks, Mr Morawiecki said that ‘a significant part of this [justice] system is corrupted. We cannot debate here only this or another element, selecting them from the whole. To me, this is a situation comparable to France in the post-Vichy period when Charles de Gaulle rebuilt the system completely’. Read more in Polish.
Statement of the Board of Polish Judges Association “Iustitia” on the remarks of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki:
24 April 2019
Prime Minister of Republic of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki
As patriots and judges, hereby we express our deep indignation at your words spoken in the last days in New York. In our judgement, they insult the dignity of the office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland. Your short expose consists of a mix of manipulations, false statements and we consider it a sign of defamation of our own country and of our allies. Below we provide explanation to our position and we demand immediate release of official apologies. Otherwise we shall be obliged to initiate appropriate legal action.
1) Manipulation – comparison of judges to fascist collaborators is disgraceful. With whom and how shall the judges secretly collaborate in order to perform mass crimes against humanity? What are the grounds for Prime Minister of Polish government to equate Polish judges with the people responsible for deportation of thousands French Jews to the Nazi death camps? Yet another time we hear the charges of corruption, without presenting any evidence. We demand this issue to be explained and we remind you, that the public officer is obliged to report immediately any crimes he is aware of, to the prosecution.
2) False statements – the statement, that 80-85% of Poles support governments activities regarding judiciary is untrue. In 2017 in CBOS poll, the support to government’s proposals was declared by 23% and in poll by IBRIS for Rzeczpospolita – 31% of respondents. Subsequent polls yield similar results. Never in the history of Poland-wide polls on representative groups, the support for government’s ‘reforms ‘ of judiciary has reached over 50% and never the number of protagonist s of so called ‘reforms’ was greater than those opposing it. We remind you, that as the largest association of Polish judges, we have supported and are supporting reforms of judiciary in our country, but we shall never support such resulting in submitting judiciary to politicians of whatever party. Government has never taken into account any proposals from judiciary nor from citizens, participating in mass street protests in many Polis cities.
3) Defamation of own country and undermining its credibility – we consider the expose of the Prime Minister as defamation – incomprehensible and unheard of – of the institutions of own country. Not only it has connotations with the term ‘oikophobia’, existing in government’s circles but also undermines the trust of Poles as well as foreign bodies in Polish judiciary. The judiciary which already suffers from a range of activities aiming at increasing political influence on courts’ and has been damaged by so called ‘billboard campaign’, paid by Polish taxpayers (with total cost of approx. 4 MEUR). We remind, that the critical assessment of the ‘reforms’ of judiciary in Poland has been expressed by: Venice Commission, European Commission, United Nations, American Bar Association, European Network of Councils of Judiciary, Amnesty International, Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights, the Ombudsman and many more institutions and legal authorities. We do not understand, why the Prime Minister of Republic of Poland, using abroad the term ‘collaborator’ to call his compatriots, associates some of Poles with Nazi and recalls the connotations that we are apparently obliged to fight against. Giving false statements and undermining the trust in Polish authorities administering the law during official foreign visits is an activity damaging our country, as – in consequence – other information provided by Polish representatives will be treated with caution in the future.
4) Defamation of our allies – naming and shaming our French allies for their hard moments in the history, during PM’s official visit in the US is – at least – inconsiderate. Perhaps Mr Prime Minister does not notice, that being in the US, he is also treated as the representative of the EU country and shall express the solidarity with other EU countries. Worth of special condemnations are the words justifying taking control over judiciary: ‘The European Union interferes, as it has no clue about Poland’. The efforts to portray EU as some entity separated from Poland, naive, clueless and unauthorised to speak out, in our assessment is damages Polish interests in the eve of the elections to the European Parliament and the discussion of the community’s budget for subsequent years.
Finally we would like to add that we agree with Prime Minister, that the activities of some post-communists politicians are worrying. We can also observe this phenomena, especially when they call judges ‘thieves’ while being responsible for introducing ‘judicial reforms’ in Poland.
We call upon Prime Minister to provide explanations and apologies and we call upon national and international institutions to express similar disapproval.
We cannot agree to spreading false statements, defaming of Polish institutions, destroying the image of Poland and associating Poles with fascist collaborators.
The Board of Polish Judges Association “Iustitia”