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Head of Poland’s ruling conservatives criticises president’s veto

PR dla Zagranicy
Paweł Kononczuk 28.07.2017 12:29
The leader of Poland’s ruling conservative party has said that the president’s decision to veto two controversial judicial reform bills was a "serious mistake”.
Jarosław Kaczyński. Photo: Archiwum Kancelarii Prezydenta RP (www.prezydent.pl) [GFDL 1.2 (https://gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia CommonsJarosław Kaczyński. Photo: Archiwum Kancelarii Prezydenta RP (www.prezydent.pl) [GFDL 1.2 (https://gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Jarosław Kaczyński, head of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, added that the government would continue to move forward with major reforms.

Among such changes he named “deconcentration of the media” and reform of the country’s special services.

On Monday, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced he would veto two of three government-backed bills to overhaul the justice system. Opponents accused the ruling conservatives of aiming to stack courts with their own candidates and of dismantling the rule of law with the reforms.

'Voting against bills would have meant end of ruling coalition'

Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin, head of the Poland Together party -- which has nine seats in parliament and is part of the governing coalition -- said he voted in favour of reforms despite their flaws because “voting against the bills would have meant the end of the ruling coalition”.

He also said that he had been confident that the bills would have been vetoed if the upper house did not “fix” them.

Kaczyński has said that judicial reform is vital, adding that the courts were “sick” and “sick courts means a sick society”.

Courts criticised

PiS supporters have criticised Polish courts for taking too long to hear cases, and have accused judges of being an elite, self-serving clique often out of touch with the problems of ordinary citizens.

But the planned reforms were slammed domestically and abroad.

The European Commission said on Wednesday it was ready to trigger a formal warning by the EU if Poland dismisses or forces the retirement of Supreme Court judges.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “An independent judiciary is an essential precondition for membership in our Union. The EU can therefore not accept a system which allows dismissing judges at will.”

During more than a week of street protests throughout Poland demonstrators called the planned reforms a “coup” and an “attack on democracy” and accused Kaczyński of being a dictator.

But Kaczyński said that “propaganda” was responsible for misconstruing the situation in Poland so that many people abroad “are deeply convinced that something wrong is going on and that democracy is threatened and that we are dealing with some sort of road towards, if not a totalitarian system then, in any case, an authoritarian one”.

He added that claims that he was a dictator were “nonsense”.

Speaking to Polish Radio on Monday, Poland’s Human Rights Ombudsman Adam Bodnar said that, while the justice system needs to be more efficient and dependable, the oversight of the courts that the vetoed bills would have enforced was “improper”.

He also said he was worried by the president passing a third bill, which gives the justice minister – who is also prosecutor general – power to appoint district and appeals court judges.

“This could potentially threaten the independence of the courts,” Bodnar said. (vb/pk)

Source: PAP, IAR

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