Tags: EU | Poland | Judiciary

Polish Leader Seeks to Stop Critical Debate on Top Court Law

Polish Leader Seeks to Stop Critical Debate on Top Court Law

Tuesday, 18 July 2017 04:37 PM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's president sought on Tuesday to end a bitter political conflict surrounding changes that the ruling populist party is introducing into the nation's judicial system.

The parliament, dominated by the ruling Law and Justice party, held a heated debate over a draft law that would dismiss the current judges of Poland's highest Supreme Court and put the justice minister in charge of it. The opposition says the proposed law violates the constitution and judicial independence.

A huge crowd chanting "free courts, we want a veto" gathered before the Presidential Palace, urging President Andrzej Duda to reject the bill. The influential Roman Catholic Church has appealed to all political forces to seek an accord in the interest of the common good.

Poland's government is already under strong criticism from the European Union for steps it has taken to take control of the judiciary, which were among its first decisions after taking power in November 2015.

But ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a lawyer and Poland's most powerful politician, says the judiciary still works along ineffective communist-era lines and needs radical change and new people to become efficient.

Amid opposition protests, the ruling party was pressing for speedy handling of the new legislation to have it approved before the August vacation period. It requires approval from the upper house and from Duda.

But Duda warned he won't sign the bill into law unless another controversial law, recently approved by the lawmakers and concerning appointments to a top legislative body, is amended according to his suggestions. The suggestions aim to shield a supreme judicial body, the National Council of the Judiciary, from the influence of the ruling party. The law gave a simple majority of lawmakers the right to appoint judges to the council. Duda wants it to be a three-fifths majority.

"I agree that we need a reform of the council. I agree with its general direction, and we need a reform of the Supreme Court, but the reform should be done wisely and with calm," Duda said in nationwide statement.

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Poland's president sought on Tuesday to end a bitter political conflict surrounding changes that the ruling populist party is introducing into the nation's judicial system.The parliament, dominated by the ruling Law and Justice party, held a heated debate over a draft law...
EU,Poland,Judiciary
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2017-37-18
Tuesday, 18 July 2017 04:37 PM
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