On behalf of the Steering Committee and member organisations of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum – signees of the present letter, we urge you to include the aim of reversing the Polish judiciary’s dependence on the legislative and executive branches of government in drafting new presidential legislation on the judiciary.
We commend you for blocking the two bills: Print No. 1727 reconstructing the Supreme Court and Print No. 1697 amending the appointment process to the National Judicial Council (NJC), but we cannot ignore that by signing the amendment to the Law on the System of Common Courts – Print No. 1491 – on 25 July 2017, the courts have become dependent on the executive power by providing the Minister of Justice with unchecked influence. This reduction of the separation of powers within the Polish government is in violation not just of EU rule of law standards – specifically Article 19(1) of the Treaty of the European Union and Article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – but in our view also of Article 10 of the Polish Constitution
An independent judiciary is fundamental to democracy, and if weakened will result in increasing mistrust in the judicial system, a powerful tool for civil society to hold the government accountable. If the impartiality of the Polish courts can no longer be guaranteed, the fundamental human rights of the Polish people will be in jeopardy.
We call for you to draft new legislation, and to consider our concerns and those echoed by our member organisations from Poland – the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Stefan Batory Foundation, and the Institute of Public Affairs.
In the meantime, we will monitor all developments in the draft laws amending the National Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court, along with the Polish response to the European Commission’s infringement proceedings.
Given the wider trends of attacks on human rights and civil society in the region, we hope that you will take this opportunity to continue to uphold Poland’s long history of being a leader in democratic development.
Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum
Liudmila Alekseeva, Chairperson, Moscow Helsinki Group, Moscow, Russia
Anikó Bakonyi, Advocacy and Project Officer, Refugee Programme, Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Budapest, Hungary
Valeri Borschev, Board Chair, Moscow Regional Social Charity Fund “Social Partnership“, Moscow, Russia
Alexander Fedorov, Chairperson, Association of Journalists Environmentalists, Moscow, Russia
Valentin Gefter, Director, Human Rights Institute, Moscow, Russia
Pavel Havliček, Associate Fellow, Association for International Affairs, Prague, Czech Republic
Bálint Jósa, Programme Coordinator, UNITED for Intercultural Action, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Vladimir Lagutov, Chairperson, Green Don, Novocherkassk, Russia
Yaroslav Nikitenko, Environmental Activist, Moscow, Russia
Dmitri Rozhin, Head, Legal Basis, Yekaterinburg, Russia
Alessio Scandurra, Project Manager, Antigone, Rome, Italy
Stefanie Schiffer, Director, European Exchange, Berlin, Germany
Georgi Sitnikov, Head, For the Animals, Perm, Russia
Andrei Suslov, Director, Centre for Civic Education and Human Rights, Perm, Russia
Svetlana Voevodina, Head, Discussion Club “Public Opinion”, Smolensk, Russia
Liubov Volkova, President, Moscow Regional Social Charity Fund “Social Partnership“, Moscow, Russia
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