Report on repression against Polish judges and prosecutors
"Justice under pressure – repressions as a means of attempting to take control over the judiciary and the prosecution in Poland in 2015-2019" report was prepared by the Association of Polish Judges "Iustitia" and association of prosecutors "Lex Super Omnia"
In 2017, as part of a package of legal changes to the judiciary, a disciplinary system was created in Poland to ensure that judges were subservient to the political will of the authorities. Piotr Schab and his deputies, Przemysław W. Radzik and Michał Lasota, the disciplinary prosecutor of common court judges, appointed by the Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General, almost from the moment of their appointment, have targeted judges who opposed unconstitutional changes in the judiciary.
There can be many pretexts: a public statement, putting on a T-shirt with the inscription “Constitution”, asking the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling, or a verdict which does not in line with the intention of the prosecution or political authority.
Disciplinary proceedings are by no means the only repressions that affect judges who demand that other authorities respect the rule of law in Poland. Such judges either have their departments closed or the scope of their activities is changed so that they have to rule on cases with which they have not previously been in contact. It is easier in such a situation to make a mistake and give a pretext for disciplinary proceedings.
This is a report which is a compilation of the most blatant cases of repression against Polish judges. Each repression has two sides – there is a victim, but there is also a perpetrator.
Repressions have specific faces, and behind each of them stands a person. That is why we decided that these faces should be shown to the public. We present not only the people who have fallen victim to repression by the disciplinary and official apparatus, but also public officers – judges, prosecutors, who are responsible for using various methods of pressure and harassment.
Th is report presents not only information about the investigations and disciplinary proceedings, but also the so-called soft repressions, consisting, among other things, in the exercise of the powers vested in court presidents, which bear features of harassment or mobbing (legal harassment). An example is the unjustified transfer to another department where a judge has never ruled, or administrative supervision of all cases from a judge’s unit, which makes it necessary to continuously write reports on the course of cases. A specific repression that has been revealed in recent months is the action of discrediting and using hate speech against judges online and offline.
As reported in the media, these actions have been instigated and managed by offi cers connected with the political power of the Ministry of Justice, by the so-called National Council of the Judiciary, or by deputy disciplinary prosecutors of common court judges. The report also contains examples of blatant public statements by representatives of the highest state authorities of the Republic of Poland slandering and denigrating judges in the national and international arena.
The study consists of two parts – the first part concerns judges and the second part concerns prosecutors. Th e part concerning judges was divided into four chapters: the first one is dedicated to the presentation of investigations and disciplinary proceedings (so-called hard repression), the second – other types of repression (so-called soft repression), the third – perpetrators of repression and persons whose described behaviour, in the opinion of the authors of the report, should be carefully assessed whether they do not constitute a misappropriation of professional ethics by participating in the process of abolishing the independence of the judiciary, and the fourth part – public statements by representatives of political authorities defaming judges.
The second part is devoted to the repressions of independent prosecutors. The report is not an exhaustive study, it contains only the most blatant examples of repression and pressure on independent judges and prosecutors. Some cases of repression have not been included, either due to a lack of sufficient data or because the harassment of repressed judges and prosecutors has not been disclosed.
In the future, we will expand and complete the report with further cases. In our opinion, however, it gives some idea of the scale of the harassment that affects judges for one reason only, namely that they demand that the other authorities respect the Polish Constitution.
Those who own the courts have absolute power. As judges, we stand guard over the civil rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. We pay a high price for this already, but we are ready to pay even the highest. We do not and will not agree to politicize the courts. We will not allow citizens to be deprived of their right to a fair trial before an impartial and independent court.
But what happens when we’re gone?
The Polish Judges
Read the full report