Monday

3rd Oct 2022

Alarm raised on possible Supreme Court purge in Poland

  • Polish ruling party chairman Jarosław Kaczyński (c) (Photo: pis.org.pl)

Poland is preparing to throw out the last independent judges from its Supreme Court, a Polish judges' association fears.

Bartłomiej Przymusiński, an activist judge and a spokesman for the lustitia association, voiced the concern on Tuesday (8 September), based on recent government statements and a newspaper report.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He noted that Jarosław Kaczyński, the chairman of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, made clear his vision for political control of the Polish judiciary in an interview at the weekend.

Remarking on one recent court verdict that he did not like, concerning a Polish soccer chief, Kaczyński said: "There is indeed in Poland a problem with rule of law, but the main sources of this state of affairs are court judgments contra legem [against the law]".

"It is our [the government's] duty to ensure that these judgments made in conflict with the law are swiftly revoked and the judges who issued them held accountable on disciplinary charges and, consequently, removed from the profession," Kaczyński added in his interview with right-wing Polish news agency niezalezna.pl.

"Kaczyński wants to make the Supreme Court into a Constitutional Tribunal duplicate, so that it's full of their own [PiS-loyalist] judges, who do exactly what they want, with no unexpected verdicts," Przymusiński told EUobserver.

If Poland's Constitutional Tribunal has been brought to heel, the Supreme Court still contained about 50 or so independent judges out of 97 in total, who "posed a problem" for PiS, Przymusiński noted.

Kaczyński already tried to get rid of them using forced retirement, but the EU court in Luxembourg blocked this last year, so now he needed a "new mechanism", Przymusiński said.

And a leading Polish daily, Rzeczpospolita, on Monday, reported that this was coming in the form of a restructuring of the Supreme Court chambers, so that just 20 to 30 judges, most likely PiS-loyal ones, would be kept on.

The Polish government has declined to confirm the report.

But Poland's deputy justice minister, Anna Dalkowska, told Rzeczpospolita: "To heal the situation in the judiciary, it is necessary to limit the number of official positions, reorganise the courts, and limit their jurisdiction".

For its part, the European Commission has launched sanctions procedures and court cases in the past three years try to stop the Polish reforms.

But even as EU institutions multiplied statements and verdicts, Kaczyński was creating new facts on the ground, Przymusiński said.

"This has worked very well for him [Kaczyński] so far, so there's no reason for him to stop, and once the [independent] Supreme Court judges are gone it will be hard to get them back, no matter what the EU says," he told EUobserver.

The EU court will, in late October, also hold a hearing to try to answer a Polish Supreme Court question - on whether politically-appointed judges can be considered judges and legally exercise their functions.

But if Kaczyński gets his way on the purge, this might be the last annoying question of its type coming from Warsaw to Luxembourg, Przymusiński noted.

"This case shows that the Supreme Court is still stuck in his [Kaczyński's] throat, but in the future, one can hardly expect the PiS-appointed judges left around to ask this type of thing," he said.

Poland's coal phase-out 'feasible' by 2035

Poland's coal phaseout should take place by 2035 if the government does not interfere, according to a new report by environmental group Greenpeace Polska.

Polish court effectively bans legal abortions

The human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe said the ruling marked a "sad day for women's rights", adding that more women will seek abortions underground and abroad.

Spain's Sanchez in storm over judicial appointments bill

Spain's socialist-led coalition has proposed changing how members of the country's top judicial body, the General Council of the Judiciary, are appointed - triggering a political and judicial storm about the independence, and drawing 'double standards' complaints from Poland.

Opinion

What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks
  2. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  3. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  4. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  5. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  6. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  7. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  8. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us