The Polish legal system has been deteriorating for five years. These developments encourage politicians in other European states to limit judicial independence as well. The ‘1000 Robes March’ in Warsaw on 11 January 2020 proved that we are one European magistrate’s family defending the rule of law. The Polish Judges Association IUSTITIA now continues this mission through an online petition to the European Commission. Judges for Judges calls on all European magistrates to sign this letter in support of our colleagues.
The Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court has waived the immunity of Judge Igor Tuleya, suspended him from all judicial duties and cut his remuneration by 25% on 18 November 2020.
The interim measures of the Court of Justice of the European Union have been blatantly ignored in order to continue these unlawful activities. Serious irreparable damage to Polish judges has already been done and the chilling effect on the Polish judiciary is now increased even further.
Seen the gravity of the situation, Judges for Judges and three European Associations of Judges and Prosecutors, in a new joint statement call upon the Council of the European Union to clearly and unequivocally uphold the fundamental value of judicial independence in the European Union and its Member States, and therefore to urgently respond to the Polish rule of law crisis and make sure that the government of Poland veers away from the previously chosen path and takes all appropriate steps to restore and respect the independence of the judiciary.
‘The decision not only clearly prohibits the Polish government to illegally repress judges, by suspending the so-called Disciplinary Chamber, but has a much broader effect – it should close the way for abuse of the arbitrary recognition of the elections validity’, says the president of the Association of Polish Judges Iustitia professor Krystian Markiewicz.
Op maandag 9 maart 2020 zat Katrien Witteman, rechter in de rechtbank Limburg, op de publieke tribune bij het Hof van Justitie van de Europese Unie in Luxemburg. Zij woonde met een aantal andere rechters uit Polen, België, Noorwegen, Turkije en Nederland de ‘interim measures’-procedure bij die door de Europese Commissie was aangespannen tegen de Republiek Polen in het kader van de inbreukprocedure C-791/19.
The presidents of the judicial organizations in the European Union kindly request a personal meeting with president Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission. They underscore that ‘any strategy which considers judicial independence a bargaining chip is completely mistaken’.
Het Hof van Justitie van de Europese Unie had ernstige twijfels bij de onafhankelijkheid en onpartijdigheid van de Disciplinaire Kamer van het Poolse Hooggerechtshof, maar liet het eindoordeel daarover aan het Poolse Hooggerechtshof zelf. Op 5 december heeft dat Hof uitgesproken dat de Kamer geen geldig gerecht is onder Europees en Pools recht.
The European Commission has sent a letter to the Platform for an Independent Judiciary in Turkey, regarding the conviction of judge Murat Arslanand the general situation in Turkey. Judges for Judges cites and posts this response on its website.
The European Commission has adopted a Communication titled ‘Further strengthening the Rule of Law within the European Union’. In this 17 July 2019 document, the Commission sets out concrete initiatives grouped around three pillars: promoting a common rule of law culture; preventing rule of law problems; and responding effectively to breaches of the rule of law. Protection by and of the judiciary is paramount in this resolute vision of the way forward.