The European Court of Human Rights will assess whether President Duda broke the law
The European Court of Human Rights will rule on the cases of eight people who were recommended by the ‘old’, legal National Council of the Judiciary to the Supreme Court, among others, whereas President Duda refused to appoint them without giving reasons.
The European Court of Human Rights informed the Polish authorities that it will hear the applications of eight judges who the legal National Council of the Judiciary recommended in 2016 and 2017 to senior judicial positions, including to the Supreme Court, but who President Andrzej Duda refused to appoint without giving reasons,
This is about nominations of the judges to the Supreme Court, the Voivodship Administrative Court, the Regional Court and the Military Regional Court. The President delayed issuing decisions in these cases until December 2021. He then issued his decisions without a justification.
The ECtHR will examine Kaspryszyn v Poland (application no. 35890/22) as a priority case – just like the other applications regarding systemic rule of law problems in Poland.
The Polish government has until 29 March to present its position. The Justice Defence Committee (KOS) is representing the applicants.
The ECtHR has more than 100 cases regarding judicial independence and the operation of the justice system in Poland. Complaints about breaches of the right to a trial in court, the right to a remedy and a breach of reputation.
The ‘old’ National Council of the Judiciary, elected on a basis that was compliant with the Constitution, recommended:
- Professor Aleksander Kappes and Professor Wojciech Kocot, as well as Appeal Court Judges Janusz Kaspryszyn and Małgorzata Polanska-Farion to the Supreme Court;
- Judge Grzegorz Borkowski to the Voivodship Administrative Court;
- Judges Agnieszka Łukaszuk, Grzegorz Miśkiewicz and Tomasz Wojciechowski to the Court of Appeal;
- Judges Krzysztof Ptasiewicz and Piotr Raczkowski to the Regional Court;
- Judge Rafał Buchajczuk to the Regional Military Court.
The ten recommended by the NCJ filed an application with the ECtHR regarding the Polish President’s decisions refusing to appoint them to judicial positions. The decisions, which were dated 27 December 2021, were published on 10 January 2022.
The ECtHR informed the Polish authorities on 1 June 2022 that it would examine the complaints of the professors of law – Professor Wojciech Kocot from the University of Warsaw and Professor Aleksander Kappes from the University of Łódź.
Now, the ECtHR has announced that it will examine the complaints of eight judges in a single case. They apply to the same facts and the applicants are raising the same allegations of breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights in them.
The applicants allege that their rights, which are protected by Article 6 of the Convention (the right to a fair trial) and Article 13 of the Convention (the right to an effective remedy), were breached because they could not appeal against the President’s decision.
They also claim that Article 8 of the Convention (the right to respect for private and family life) was breached, arguing that the Polish President’s prolonged silence with regard to the recommendation of the NCJ as to their nominations and the President’s decision refusing to appoint them breached their good names.
The ECtHR finds for the Polish judges
The Court has been successively – and as a priority – ruling on cases regarding the systemic changes in the judiciary since 2015, including numerous cases filed by judges.
In all of its rulings to date, it found for the applicant judges and ruled that the Polish authorities had breached the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. It has also awarded the applicants tens of thousands of euros in damages.
- Ruling of the ECtHR of 29 June 2021 in the cases of Judges Brody and Bojary;
- Ruling of the ECtHR of 8 November 2021 in the cases of Judges Dolińska-Ficek and Ozimek;
- Ruling of the ECtHR of 15 March 2022 in the case of Judge Grzęda;
- Ruling of the ECtHR of 16 June 2022 in the case of Judge Żurek;
- Ruling of the ECtHR of 6 October 2022 in the case of Judge Juszczyszyn.
The rulings applied to the premature termination of the term of office of members of the old National Council of the Judiciary (case of judges Jan Grzęda and Waldemar Żurek), the premature termination of the term of office of the vice-presidents of the Regional Court in Kielce (cases of judges Mariusz Broda and Alina Bojara), adjudication in the cases of the judges by the Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs of the Supreme Court (cases of Judges Monika Dolińska-Ficek and Artur Ozimek) and the suspension of a judge by the Disciplinary Chamber (the case of Judge Paweł Juszczyszyn).
Furthermore, the ECtHR also issued a number of interim measures in cases filed by judges. These oblige the Polish authorities to refrain from taking action that the applicants believe breaches their rights, which are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, until the Court issues a ruling. The ECtHR has issued (several times in several cases) freezing orders in the cases of Judges:
- Włodzimierz Wróbel;
- Marzanna Piekarska-Drążek;
- Adam Synkiewicz, Agnieszka Niklas-Bibik and Joanna Hetnarowicz-Sikora;
- Anna Głowacka;
- Andrzej Stępka;
- Tomasz Zawiślak;
- Piotr Raczkowski, Aleksandra Janas and Andrzej Sterkowicz;
- Waldemar Żurek;
- Ewa Leszczyńska-Furtak and Ewa Gregajtys.
Applications waiting for consideration
The following are among those that are waiting for examination by the Court:
- applications regarding President Kaczyński’s and President Duda’s refusal to appoint judges filed by Judge Joanna Sobczyńska (no. 62765/14) and other judges (nos. 62769/14, 62772/14 and 11708/18);
- three applications filed by Judge Igor Tuleya regarding the lifting of his immunity by the Disciplinary Chamber, disciplinary proceedings and the refusal to allow him to work;
- applications of judges regarding suspension by the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court filed by Judges Maciej Ferek (no. 22591/22), Piotr Gąciarek (no. 27444/22), Maciej Rutkowicz (no. 18380/22) and Krzysztof Chmielewski (no. 323017/22);
- applications of judges regarding suspension by the Minister of Justice filed by Judges Adam Synkiewicz, Marta Pilśnik, Agnieszka Niklas-Bibik, Marzanna Piekarska-Drążek, Joanna Hetnarowicz-Sikora and Anna Głowacka;
- applications of judges for harassment for issuing rulings and defending the rule of law filed by Judges Waldemar Żurek, Łukasz Biliński, Piotr Gąciarek, Agnieszka Niklas-Bibik, Maciej Czajka, Beata Morawiec, Wojciech Maczuga, Katarzyna Wierzbicka, Anna Ptaszek, Paweł Juszczyszyn, Ewa Leszczyńska-Furtak and Ewa Gregajtys.
The article was published in Polish in OKO.press, February 13, 2023.