Accessibility links

Breaking News

Report in Poland Lists Judges, Prosecutors Facing Reprisals 

Judges of the Iustitia association release a report listing dozens of judges and prosecutors who are facing reprisals for questioning changes the right-wing government is making to the court system, in Warsaw, Poland, Feb. 29, 2020.

An association of judges in Poland published a report Saturday listing dozens of judges and prosecutors who face reprisals and disciplinary measures for having criticized or questioned changes the country's right-wing government has made to the judicial system.

The 200-page report issued by the Polish judges' association Iustitia named judges and prosecutors who were called before disciplinary bodies, moved to lower courts or had cases taken away from them. The actions took place after the lawyers and jurists commented on the reorganization of the judiciary or issued rulings that seemed to deviate from government policy.

Among those listed in the report as being subject to reprisals are Warsaw District Court Judge Igor Tuleya; Olsztyn District Court Judge Pawel Juszczyszyn; and Iustitia's president, Judge Krystian Markiewicz of the District Court in Katowice.

Markiewicz has urged the European Union to act in defense of judicial independence in Poland. Some 4,000 out of Poland's 10,000 judges are Iustitia members.

"As judges we stand guard over the civil rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution," said the English-language version of the report.

"We do not and will not agree to politicize the courts," it said.

'Slandering' judges, prosecutors

The report also names and quotes government and judiciary officials who, it says, have been publicly "slandering" the judges and prosecutors in Poland and internationally.

The government says the changes it has introduced since 2016 were designed to make the justice system more efficient and free of jurists left over from Poland's communist era.

In response to criticism coming from newer judges, the government said it is taking steps to prevent "anarchy" in the court system.

The EU, international judicial bodies and critics in Poland have said the changes could undercut judicial independence, the rule of law, and the democratic system of checks and balances.

One recent law allows politicians to fine and fire judges who are considered biased because of their group affiliations or who take actions regarded by the government as harmful to the Polish court system.

Candidate's promise

At a political convention Saturday, the main opposition candidate in Poland's May 10 presidential election said that if elected, she would make right "all wrongs done to independent judges" by the ruling Law and Justice party.

"Poland's judges are persecuted," Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska, who is running for the pro-EU Civic Platform party, said.

Kidawa-Blonska is among several candidates challenging Poland's incumbent president, Andrzej Duda. Opinion polls suggest she may provide competition for Duda, who is backed by the ruling party.

Kidawa-Blonska said that as president, she would work to regain Poland's place as a respected European Union member and to unify the country after what she described as divisions created by the conservative Law and Justice government.

She said her guiding values would be "mutual respect, trust and honesty."