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Poland's judiciary under 'attack': UN official

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 28.10.2017 09:30
A United Nations envoy has said Poland's justice system is under attack.
Diego Garcia-Sayan. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak.Diego Garcia-Sayan. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak.

The independence of the judiciary and rule of law are threatened, according to Diego Garcia-Sayan, a United Nations special rapporteur, who came to Poland on Monday.

But Poland's Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski denied the allegations, saying that Garcia-Sayan was entitled to his opinions and Poland was entitled to disagree, and that if the separation of powers and the independence of the courts "are threatened ... then it means they still exist".

Waszczykowski added that Poland has responded to all international organisations' concerns.

Commenting on the government's planned reforms to Poland's judiciary, Garcia-Sayan said the changes appeared to be worse than the system they were supposed to fix, adding that they were an attack on the courts and that they undermined the separation of powers.

The UN's envoy pointed to Poland's Constitutional Tribunal as the “first victim” of sweeping changes under the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government, which was elected in late 2015.

Garcia-Sayan also criticised the president's proposed changes the Supreme Court and the National Council of the Judiciary, a powerful judges' ethics council, which he said were being discussed “behind closed doors”.

The bills are being negotiated by the president and the leader of the ruling party, after President Andrzej Duda in summer vetoed two of three justice reform bills amid protests domestically and fierce criticism abroad.

But Waszczykowski said Garcia-Sayan was criticising reforms “which have not happened yet”.

While in Poland, Garcia-Sayan spoke with officials from Poland's justice and foreign ministries, the president's office, courts, and the human rights commissioner.

He is expected to give a full report on the situation in Poland to the UN's Human Rights Council in mid-2018.

Meanwhile, a team from the Venice Commission human rights watchdog was also in Poland this week probing changes to Poland's prosecution service. It was the Venice Commission's second inquiry into Poland after probing the Constitutional Tribunal last year. (vb/pk)

Source: PAP

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