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Consul reacts after US paper slams legal changes in Poland

PR dla Zagranicy
Grzegorz Siwicki 18.07.2018 14:30
The Polish consul-general in Chicago has defended sweeping legal changes in Poland after an influential American newspaper claimed the government in Warsaw has dismantled judicial independence, a news agency has reported.
Polish Consulate General in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Photo: chicago.msz.gov.plPolish Consulate General in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Photo: chicago.msz.gov.pl

In a letter to the Chicago Tribune daily, consul Piotr Janicki said that Poland’s previous court system allowed judges to decide about their own nominations and promotions, and that it needed to be reformed, public broadcaster Polish Radio's IAR news agency reported on Wednesday.

The Chicago Tribune has said in an editorial that a "nationalist" government in Poland “has systematically dismantled judicial independence” and that Supreme Court judges "have been purged and replaced with government loyalists.”

The editorial said that Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal, which ensures that laws do not stray from the country’s constitution, “lost its independence in 2015 when the ruling party, the mismonikered Law and Justice Party, stacked the court with its own adherents.”

Law and Justice (PiS) has long argued that sweeping changes are needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system tainted by the communist past, accusing judges of being an elite, self-serving clique often out of touch with the problems of ordinary citizens.

The Chicago Tribune editorial, which is entitled “Beyond NATO, Brexit and Putin: Europe’s Poland Problem" and which follows US President Donald Trump’s recent trip to Europe, argues that “a nudge from Washington should help” Poland “rethink … and reform,” especially as Warsaw “needs the U.S. and the rest of NATO to have its back as it faces the ever-present threat posed by its neighbor to the east, Russia.”

In his letter to the Chicago Tribune, Janicki pointed to differences between the Polish and American legal systems, according to the IAR news agency.

He argued, for example, that, unlike most Americans, Polish citizens cannot influence their country's judiciary through either indirect or direct elections, IAR reported.

The midwestern US city of Chicago is said to be home to the world’s second-largest population of Poles after Warsaw.

Polish courts marred by communist-era holdovers: PM

Poland’s ruling conservatives insist that the contested legal changes, which have drawn criticism at home and abroad, are largely aimed at ridding the country’s courts of vestiges of communism.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said late last year that some of those responsible for communist-era crimes in Poland were never brought to justice because the country’s court system remained marred by communist holdovers.

Morawiecki in December published an opinion piece in the Washington Examiner in which he argued that Poland’s judicial system was “deeply flawed” and that the country’s ruling conservatives had been elected with a mandate to overhaul it.

Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said last month his country would defend its right to reform its justice system amid a dispute with Brussels over a punitive procedure against Warsaw.


Source: IAR, chicagotribune.com

tags: Chicago, courts
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