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EU Judicial Body to Suspend Poland for Flouting Freedom of Courts


FILE - People are seen gathered during an anti-government protest in support of a free judiciary in front of the Senate building in Warsaw, Poland, July 24, 2018.

An organization made up of the judiciaries of European Union states said Thursday that it planned to suspend Poland, contending that political interference had rendered its legal system no longer independent of the government.

The European Network of Councils for the Judiciary's (ENCJ) announcement added to widespread criticism of the nationalist government's changes to the courts since coming to power in late 2015.

The ENCJ's board said the Polish National Judiciary Council (KRS), which appoints judges and represents Poland at the ENCJ, "is no longer an institution which is independent of the executive and ... guarantees the final responsibility for the support of the judiciary in the independent delivery of
justice."

The ENCJ, which advises the EU's executive on upholding the rule of law in the bloc, will convene its members September 17 to decide whether to suspend the KRS.

The EU has several legal cases open against Poland for its overhaul of the judiciary, but the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party says the changes are needed to clear out the legacy of communism and make the courts more effective.

The president of Poland's Supreme Court, Malgorzata Gersdorf, has defied a new law that forces her into early retirement and has called on the European Union to defend her country's judiciary from government interference.

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