Parliamentary team debates government's judicial law amendments

Rafał Guz/PAP

A parliamentary team for the defence of the rule of law on Tuesday debated the Polish government-authored judicial law amendments. Present at the nearly four-hour debate were among others Supreme Court head Malgorzata Gersdorf and invited foreign guests.

In his opening address, Senate (upper house) head Tomasz Grodzki noted that the new draft laws were "dangerous in many aspects." He added that a recent visit to Poland by a Venice Commission delegation and his talks with EC Vice-President Vera Jourova were part of the Senate's preparations to a plenary debate on the bills.

Referring to the government's assurances that the new laws were similar to legislation in other EU countries, Grodzki said that he wanted to clear this with legal experts from other EU states.

"The government is trying to convince public opinion that there's nothing wrong here, that similar things are taking place in other countries," Grodzki said.

Gersdorf criticised the presentation of new legislation by MPs, calling it "an abnormal mode of passing laws," and warned that the new laws were dangerous for all Poles "regardless of world outlook and beliefs."

"We must remind constantly that there are no free citizens without independent courts and judges," Gersdorf said.

The new Polish judicial legislation was approved by the Sejm (lower house) and sent to the Senate, which has 30 days to process the draft.

The Sejm adopted the draft on December 20. Authored by Poland's governing party Law and Justice (PiS), it aims to discipline judges who exceeded their powers by obstructing the functioning of the judiciary, questioning judicial appointments, and public activities which are incompatible with the principle of the independence of courts and judges.