Repression of Polish judges and prosecutors – report by KOS

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The Justice Defence Committee (KOS) published a report entitled “A country that punishes. Pressure and repression of Polish judges and prosecutors”. The main objective of the report is to present how new disciplinary mechanisms in the judiciary and public prosecution service are being used as tools of political pressure and intimidation.



KOS is a collaborative effort of 12 organisations associating judges and prosecutors, as well as non-governmental organisations and social initiatives involved in the defence of the rule of law in Poland. The committee was established to work together when the impartiality of judges and the independence of lawyers are under threat.

 

The report begins with a summary of the main activities of KOS since being established on 4 June 2018. In the main body of the report you can find information about:

 

  • Changes to the law governing disciplinary proceedings implemented by the ruling Law and Justice party – the system of disciplinary responsibility of judges has been subjected to the almost unlimited control of the Minister of Justice, who simultaneously holds the office of Prosecutor General.
  • Examples of the use of the disciplinary proceedings against judges who publicly express critical opinions about changes in the justice system and oppose violations of the Polish constitution by the ruling party’s politicians and its nominees.
  • Other examples of pressure on judges involving deprival of the opportunity for promotion, excessive burdening of judges with cases, use of criminal proceedings against judges, deliberate organizational changes in courts to deprive judges of their functions, transfer to another division of the court against the judge’s desires, and many more.
  • “Soft” repressions including unjustified and manipulative attacks by some politicians and journalists or special campaigns to discredit the judiciary sponsored by state-owned companies.
  • Changes in the public prosecution service implemented by Law and Justice in 2016 which led to the far-reaching politicization of this institution, increase of control over prosecutors by the Minister of Justice who is also the Prosecutor General, and personnel changes to guarantee a high degree of loyalty among prosecutors to the ruling party’s political goals.
  • Examples of political pressure exercised against prosecutors includes harassment of selected prosecutors, such as members of the Lex Super Omnia Association of Prosecutors, disciplinary procedures initiated against prosecutors criticizing changes in the judiciary and prosecution service under the Law and Justice government, and many other cases of unjustified repression.

 

The full report, titled “A country that punishes. Pressure and repression of Polish judges and prosecutors”, can be found here.

 

By Marek Tatala