Poland Passes Law Giving Parliament Control Of Judicial Nominations

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 17, 2017

The main extra-parliamentary opposition movement, the Committee for the Defense of Democracy (KOD), led the protests under the banner of "This is NOT the end!"

Police in Warsaw said up to 4,500 people joined the protest on Sunday, while officials from Warsaw's city hall said more than 10,000 people participated.

Economist Leszek Balcerowicz, the architect of Poland's market reforms after the fall of communism in 1989, said the Law and Justice party was leading the country toward a "socialist dictatorship" in which the judiciary would be controlled by politicians and the courts would lose their independence.

Protesters waved European Union and Polish flags and shouted "we will defend democracy" at an afternoon demonstration in front of the parliament, which this week passed legislation that critics say gives the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party power over the courts.

Poland's Senate passed legislation that will give the parliament control over the nomination of judges in the Eastern European country, similar to the United States system.

A PiS-backed bill on the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), a constitutional body tasked with safeguarding the independence of courts and judges, would see the terms of 15 of its members who are judges phased out, and their replacements selected by parliament - not by other legal professionals, as is now the case. They now go to President Andrzej Duda before being signed into law. He insisted the changes were in the public interest and fulfilled the party's election campaign promises. Both laws were passed by the lower house of parliament (the Sejm) on Wednesday.

PiS is accused of placing party loyalists on another top court, the Constitutional Tribunal, soon after winning the September 2016 election.

Those gathered, who included government critics and leaders of some opposition parties, argued the changes would limit judicial independence and threaten the separation of powers in the country. The judiciary, it contends, is symptomatic of this malaise.

The state-run main television channel, TVP1 reported the protests as an "attempted putsch" and underlined the low turnout, Poland's largest daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, reported.

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