Warsaw, Poland – International human rights watchdog Amnesty International slammed Poland over its attempts to interfere in the judicial system.
Amnesty International: Judicial reforms “threaten rule of law”
In a report released last week, Amnesty International accused the Polish government of “witch-hunt” tactics and “years of intimidation and online harassment” against judges.
The NGO also criticized Poland’s controversial judicial reforms and attempt to “politicize judicial appointments”, including the measures to lower the retirement age of Supreme Court judges – on which the ruling party eventually backtracked under international pressure – and “giving the Minister of Justice exclusive power to dismiss and appoint Presidents and vice-Presidents of courts”.
But as the report points out, the policies and legislative reforms the government tried to push through are only the tip of the iceberg.
Online harassment and intimidation tactics against judges
Many judges have also been subject to smear campaigns and online harassment, including on social media, according to the documented Amnesty report.
According to Barbora Černušáková from Amnesty International, “Polish authorities have conducted a witch-hunt, working behind the scenes to intimidate and smear the Polish judges and prosecutors who have courageously protested against the political hijacking of the judiciary. This harassment has to stop immediately”.
Draginja Nadazdin, director of Amnesty International’s Poland office, reminded that “the independence of judges and the judiciary is a basic guarantee for human rights”.
EU and Council of Europe criticize Poland’s judicial reforms
Amnesty’s report comes a few weeks after a landmark EU ruling in June, in which the European Court of Justice ruled that Poland’s attempt to lower the retirement age of Supreme Court judges – that would effectively have ousted one third of its judges – undermined the independence of the judiciary and violated EU law.
Only one week ago, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner also bashed the Polish government over its judicial reforms that “fundamentally affected” all parts of the justice system and would result in the politicization of the courts.