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EU top court questions independence of the bodies responsible for nominating and disciplining Polish judges

The European Union’s top court has today cast serious doubts over the independence of the bodies responsible for disciplining and nominating judges, Poland’s Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber and the National Council of the Judiciary. Responding to the news from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, said:

“With today’s judgement, the EU’s top court has given the green light for Polish courts to further investigate the independence of key bodies responsible for disciplining and nominating judges.”

“International bodies including the European Commission have already concluded that the Chamber cannot be considered independent. Amnesty International has documented that as a result of the Polish government’s supposed “reform” of the judicial system, judges and prosecutors have been harassed and subjected to politically motivated disciplinary investigations and smear campaigns. This interference with the independence of judiciary must end immediately.”

With today’s judgement, the EU’s top court has given the green light for Polish courts to further investigate the independence of key bodies responsible for disciplining and nominating judges

Eve Geddie,
Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office

“It is now more important than ever that the European Institutions, including the Council, demand the restoration of judicial independence and stand up for the human rights of people in Poland.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Alison Abrahams on Alison.abrahams@amnesty.org or call 0483 680 812.

Background

The CJEU ruled that the new Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court can only be competent to rule on cases relating to the retirement of judges of the Supreme Court if its independence and impartiality is guaranteed.  

In December 2017, the European Commission initiated so-called Article 7.1 TEU proceedings with regard to Poland, beginning a process that could lead to sanctions, including a loss of voting rights in the EU. In April 2019, the European Commission also started infringement proceedings regarding the disciplinary regime for judges and brought this case before the CJEU in October.

Amnesty International July 2019 report “Poland: Free Courts, Free People

Amnesty International 19 November 2019 briefing “Poland 2019: The State of the Judiciary