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    Amendment to Polish judicial system, signed by the President, comes into force next Tuesday

    The new law on the judiciary will enter into force next Tuesday. President Andrzej Duda signed it yesterday despite vocal political opposition. The Act was passed by Sejm, rejected by the opposition controlled Senate, and then reconfirmed by the Sejm. The Judiciary Ordinance Act regulates the election of members of the Supreme Court and prohibits judges from questioning the status of judges already appointed by the president. The opposition has called this act a “muzzle law” but the government maintains that this Act merely clarifies the provisions of the Polish constitution.

    The president has already signed the law on disciplining judges and regulating the procedure for electing the First President of the Supreme Court. Politicians of the ruling party are grateful to the president and believe that the new law will stop anarchy in the Polish justice system. On the other hand, opposition politicians accuse the president of betraying Poland and Poles, as well the rule of law and democracy. Opposition politicians point out that President Andrzej Duda is afraid of the leader of the ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczyński, and the Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro. In their opinion, the president signed the bill without thinking carefully and that it will lead Poland towards the authoritarian dictatorships of the east.

    The Speaker of the Senate, Tomasz Grodzki, announced that the Senate will defend any judges who face repression.

    “The consequences of the president’s signature are particularly serious for all the citizens of our country because the judicial process may be able to be challenged by other institutions, including foreign ones”, stated Speaker Grodzki. 

    “We can’t afford anarchy in the judiciary. We cannot get the judges to decide who is a judge and who is not. They will fall under the exclusive competence of the president and parliament. Judges are to apply the law, to administer justice, but like other citizens, they are not above the law and the law also applies to them”, in turn said Marek Pęk, the Deputy Speaker of the higher chamber. 

    After the President signed the law, the Court of Justice of the European Union ordered explanations from the government about the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court. They should be delivered by February 13. 

     

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