The Constitutional Court of Poland denied the primacy of European law over national law in its ruling of 7 October 2021. The European Association of Judges takes note of this ‘devasting’ judgement with ‘great disappointment’ and finds it ‘totally clear’ to be ‘null and void’.
Its President Mr Duro Sessa therefore sent a letter of support to Iustitia, the Polish member association of the International Associations of Judges: ‘All principles we are fighting for are not for our sake but for the sake of the citizens. (…) The struggle of Iustitia is an inspiration for all judges in Europe.’
Eleven judges of the District Court in Kraków refused to adjudicate with judges nominated by the new National Council of the Judiciary. Three of them have since undergone forced transfers to other divisions. Their colleagues organized the first ever all-day rotational protest in response to this ‘expression of repression by the authorities’.
Op 17 augustus 2021 hebben de Nederlandse Vereniging voor Rechtspraak (NVvR) en Rechters voor Rechters in een gezamenlijke brief [klik hier (pdf)] aan de vaste Kamercommissies voor Defensie en Buitenlandse zaken aandacht gevraagd voor de precaire situatie waarin met name Afghaanse vrouwelijke rechters zich bevinden.
Judges for Judges took notice with great concern of the recent developments in Afghanistan. Judges for Judges publicly supports the recent calls for international support by the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and by the International Association of Judges (IAJ). Continue reading Judges for Judges on the recent developments in Afghanistan→
A year has passed since August 9, 2020, when Belarus held a presidential election that officially gave Alexander Lukashenko, who had been in power since 1994, another term in office. Tens of thousands of Belarusians considered the election rigged and took to the streets in mass peaceful protests.
Over the last year, according to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Viasna, a Belarusian organisation documenting torture, at least 35,000 peaceful protesters have been detained, there have been 4,691 documented criminal court cases, 608 political prisoners and about 1,800 reports of torture. Hundreds of human rights activists have been persecuted and thousands have had to flee the country.
What is it like to be a judge in Belarus? Judges for Judges had a chance to speak to one of the few judges that decided to leave their function. Mr. J* worked as judge in a regional court in Belarus until October 2020. In August 2020, judge J refused to hear cases against citizens who had been arrested on the streets during the protests against the outcome of the Belarus presidential election. He felt morally obliged to resign and was later forced to leave the country for fear of reprisals.
*J is for Judge: for security reasons his name is not mentioned here.
Judges for Judges and Professor Laurent Pech have submitted joint third party interventions before the European Court of Human Rights in the cases of Polish judges Biliński and Juszczyszyn.
The case of Biliński v Poland primarily concerns the proceedings concerning the applicant’s forced transfer from the Criminal to the Family and Juvenile Division, which amounted to a disguised reprisal for his rulings and was unfair in many aspects.
The case of Juszczyszyn v Poland concerns the proceedings for and following the suspension of the applicant from his official duties by a body itself since suspended twice by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and whose lack of independence has also been definitively established by the ECJ as a matter of EU law.
The Rule of Law has been suspended in Turkey for the last five years. In the tragic backsliding that followd the attempted Coup d’État of 15 July 2016, the Turkish judiciary has seen one of its darkest pages: the dismissal of thousands of judges and prosecutors, long imprisonments in life endangering detention conditions after unfair trials, and socially stigmatized and economically threatened families.
The Platform for an Independent Judiciary in Turkey, consisting of the four major judicial associations in Europe, in an official statement directed at the Council of Europe and the European Commission therefore:
continues to stand in solidarity behind the unlawfully and illegally detained and/or dismissed Turkish judges and prosecutors;
strongly urges the European institutions to call on Turkey to provide guarantees and standards for a de iure and de facto independence of the judges and prosecutors as well as to take responsibility to demand so in their various partnerships and relations with Turkey;
strongly urges the European institutions to call on Turkey to carry out the European Court judgments and to review all decisions for dismissal of Turkish judges or prosecutors since 15 July 2016 and all pre-trial detention orders and criminal convictions regarding membership of an illegal organization.
If ‘Europe will be forged in its crises’, then this is the crisis of our times. In a joint public statement (also available in Polish) on the recent developments in Poland, the four European Associations of Judges and Prosecutors today call upon the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council:
to act institutionally towards Polish national authorities and the heads of the Polish executive branch to immediately restore the rule of law;
to take all necessary measures and activate all instruments enshrined in the Treaties, in order to guarantee the respect for the EU legal order.
The President of the Supreme Court of Poland Judge Józef Iwulski is suspended by the Disciplinary Chamber, notwithstanding unambiguous rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union and a similar motion of the European Commission. Judges for Judges endorses the statements issued on this ‘resolution’ by the National Board of the Polish Judges Association Iustitia and 74 Supreme Court Judges.