Polish courts need reform but must not be politicized: opposition group
PR dla Zagranicy
The opposition Kukiz '15 grouping has proposed that judges on Poland’s influential National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) should be chosen either directly by citizens or by a qualified majority in parliament.
Prezydent Andrzej DudaFoto: Prezydent.pl/Eliza Radzikowska-Białobrzewska/Polskie Radio
Paweł Kukiz, head of the anti-establishment parliamentary Kukiz '15 grouping, met President Andrzej Duda on Monday to discuss sweeping changes to the judiciary planned by Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.
The meeting followed protests against the planned changes outside the Supreme Court and the Polish parliament in Warsaw on Sunday.
'Thorough reforms' needed
After meeting Duda on Monday, Kukiz said his grouping believes "the Polish judiciary requires “thorough reforms and profound personnel changes".
But he added that courts "cannot be politicized, and it is absolutely unacceptable that only one party and its justice minister decide on their shape."
The Kukiz '15 grouping has a history of voting similarly to the governing PiS party on many key issues, although it has also criticised Law and Justice.
'Inefficient' judicial system
The Polish government has said changes are needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system.
A government-backed bill would see the Supreme Court’s existing judges retired and reinstatement only possible on the justice minister’s approval.
A second bill would change the way that heads of district and appeals courts are appointed, making the justice minister solely responsible for such decisions.
Yet another bill would change the KRS, a constitutional body tasked with safeguarding the independence of courts and judges. This would see the terms of 15 of its members who are judges phased out, and their replacements selected by parliament -- not by other legal professionals, as is currently the case.
Supporters of the ruling Law and Justice party have criticised Polish courts for taking too long to hear cases, and have accused judges of being an elite, self-serving clique often out of touch with the problems of ordinary citizens.
Critics have accused PiS of dismantling the rule of law in Poland and of aiming to stack courts with its own candidates.