Poland set for protest after controversial judiciary bill is approved

Poland set for protest after controversial judiciary bill is approved
By Chris Harris with REUTERS
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Critics claim it will erode the independence of Poland’s judges.


A controversial bill that critics claim will erode the independence of Poland’s judiciary have been approved.

The country’s senate gave the green light to proposals that will allow MPs and the justice minister to appoint judges.

It marks the latest move by the right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS) to gain more influence over the judiciary, which critics and the centrist opposition say violates the constitutional separation of powers.

The PiS says the party has a democratic mandate to make the judiciary more efficient and accountable to the public.

“The right to a fair trial is one of the key requirements of international human rights law as well as of the Polish constitution,” said Amnesty International’s Barbora Černušáková. “This level of political interference with the judiciary can only lead to decreased trust in the fairness of trials.”

The bill, which must be signed by the president in order to become law, would force the sitting Supreme Court judges to resign a day after it comes into force.

It would also give the power for future appointees to be chosen by a judiciary council, a body which will have most of its members chosen by parliament.

A demonstration against the changes is scheduled to take place in the capital Warsaw on Sunday.

Since it came to power in 2015, the government of the conservative, populist PiS has passed a series of controversial reforms, triggering mass protests.

Supreme Court president Malgorzata Gersdorf, speaking on Thursday before the bill was approved, said: “Its aim is to give the justice minister broad control over the Supreme Court. This is very dangerous for the political system we are living in.”

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