Thousands Protest Judicial Reforms in Poland

Elias Hubbard
July 17, 2017

The letter was published after Poland's Senate, in the early hours of Saturday morning, approved two other laws - one of which disbands an independent body that nominates judges and the other of which gives the justice minister the right to dismiss the presidents of regional and appeal courts.

Activists brandished European Union and Polish national flags chanting "shame, shame" and "in defense of the courts" as they descended onto the streets of central Warsaw to rally against the draft bill.

The council's tasks include drawing up and enforcing ethical guidelines for judges, reviewing judicial candidates and seeking opinions on new rules and regulations to ensure they are constitutional.

Kaczynski, a lawyer, contended that the judiciary sector has not been reformed since communist times, lacks moral principles, is inefficient and needs younger personnel. Since winning the 2015 election the party has overhauled the constitutional court and given the Justice Ministry control over the prosecutor general's office.

Poland's opposition and judges also voiced outrage at the surprise draft law on the Supreme Court.

Critics of the changes argue the laws will erode the independence of judges and undermine Poland's democracy.

The country's fragmented opposition also promised to be more united against PiS.

Poland's TVP television, controlled by the state, said the protests and calls to block Tuesday's debate were "an attempt to organise a coup against a democratically elected power".

Protesters on Sunday were cordoned off from the main entrance to the parliament by barricades erected ahead of the demonstrations.

Police in Warsaw said up to 4,500 people joined the protest on Sunday, while officials from Warsaw's city hall said more than 10,000 people participated.

The Supreme Court supervises and provides guidance to lower courts on complex cases and can rule in disputed cases. Smaller protests took place in other Polish cities such as Krakow and Katowice.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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