UN rights commissioner concerned about Polish judiciary bill

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday expressed concern with the Polish ruling party's draft disciplinary legislation aimed at judges, which according to the commissioner "risks further jeopardising the independence of the judiciary in Poland."

"We are concerned by draft legislation, submitted to the Polish parliament on 12 December, which risks further jeopardising the independence of the judiciary in Poland and would place constraints on judges in exercising their freedom of association and freedom of expression. It could even result in judges being dismissed if they question the Government’s judicial reform," says the statement published on the high commissioner office's website, signed by the commissioner's spokesperson, Rupert Colville.

"The draft act which amends the existing law on the structure of common courts, law on the Supreme Court and a number of other acts, may also prevent judges from fulfilling their legal obligation, under EU treaties, to apply EU law. In general, it risks further undermining the already heavily challenged independence of the judiciary in Poland," the statement goes on to say.

"We urge the Polish Government and the members of the Parliament (Sejm) to consider carefully the potential impact of the draft legislation on the rule of law," the statement reads.

"As a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Poland is required to ensure the independence of the judiciary, and as an incoming member of the UN Human Rights Council, Poland is also expected to set a high standard of compliance with international human rights law," the statement continued, urging Poland to immediately lift "any measures which are contrary to the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary."