European Court of Human Rights condemns Poland for the third time over judicial reform

For the third time in three months, the European Court of Human Rights (EGMR) Poland He was convicted of his judicial reforms. Strasbourg judges on Thursday found the appointment of members of a controversial disciplinary body to Poland’s Supreme Court “unacceptably affected by the legislative and executive branches”. This “fundamental infraction” seriously calls into question the legitimacy of the body.

The ruling nationalist right-wing Law and Justice party set up the Disciplinary Chamber in 2018. It is responsible for disciplinary actions against judges and can also suspend them. PiS pretends to be working against corruption and other misconduct and against the “legacy of communism” in the judicial system.

The European Commission and other critics accuse the government in Warsaw of undermining the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers. Following a complaint from the Commission The European Court of Justice ruled last week In Luxembourg (ECJ) the disciplinary body is violating EU law.

Luxembourg judges also criticized the lack of political independence of the disciplinary body. Another problem is that purely substantive court decisions can be categorized as disciplinary offenses and punishable. This enables “political control of court decisions” and “exercise pressure on judges”.

Judges of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg examined the Polish regulation due to a complaint by a lawyer for its compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights. They came to the conclusion that the disciplinary body could not be a legal body within the meaning of the agreement, and ordered Poland to pay 15,000 euros in compensation to the lawyer – a relatively high amount relative to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

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More lawsuits pending

There are other lawsuits pending in the Human Rights Court over Polish judicial reforms, and there are 38 cases in total. In May, the court had already found Poland guilty of the “unlawful” appointment of a constitutional judge. This was followed in June by two impeachment convictions.

The EU institutions are also at odds with Warsaw over judicial reforms and other points in many of the proceedings. On Tuesday, the Brussels Commission gave the Polish government an ultimatum: by August 16, it had to explain how it would comply with EU judicial decisions on the disciplinary body. Otherwise, there is a risk of a fine.

The PiS government has so far not been affected by the various measures and convictions.

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