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The UN warns that judicial independence in Poland is threatened

A preliminary United Nations report argues that the latest reforms of the justice system driven by law and justice affect its fairness

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The UN warns that judicial independence in Poland is threatened

"The independence of judiciary and or basic democratic standards, such as rule of law, are now threatened in Poland," said Friday in Warsaw Diego Garcia-Sayan, UN special Rapporteur on independence of judges in Central European country. García-Sayan has presented preliminary findings of his five-day visit to Poland to assess judicial reform. Since advent of power in 2015 of ultraconservative Law and Justice Party (PiS), led by former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland is immersed in a crisis of legitimacy following reforms to its judicial system.

"Reforms undertaken by Polish Government seem to be worse than disease itself, which has affected entire judicial system," said UN expert. The changes in judiciary led by executive of Conservative Party and nationalist Law and Justice, which governs Poland with absolute majority since 2015, have supposed "an attack on justice" because y "undermine role and independence of judiciary" , he pointed out.

Despite harsh warnings of Brussels and citizen mobilization, Polish Government has been reforming and developing laws for two years to accumulate more and more power, jeopardizing rule of law and fundamental rights of citizens. On 20 July, Polish parliament passed a law that allows government to designate and dismiss Presidents of Supreme Court without arguing grounds.

The expert has also criticized fact that President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, and leader of party in government, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, have tried "behind closed" content of bill that aims to advance reform of justice undertaken on Last July and that was partly vetoed by doubt when it refused to ratify it vis-a-vis criticisms and protests throughout country.

In preliminary conclusions presented this Friday, García-Sayan has expressed concern about " polarization of society following dispute related to composition of Constitutional Court". According to expert, "any reform that affects Constitutional Court has to be result of a fair, open and transparent process that takes into account not only parliamentary majority and opposition but also actors mselves of judiciary."

The United Nations sent a special Rapporteur to Poland this week to assess effects of controversial reforms carried out since arrival of power of law and Justice in October 2015. During investigation, García-Sayan has met with authorities from three branches of power as well as representatives of civil society and diplomatic community. The rapporteur had already expressed concern about reforms carried out last July.

The report will be presented next June to United Nations Human Rights Council. However, this body does not envisage any sanctions for Poland.


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