Polish president names new Supreme Court judges amid row over legal changes
PR dla Zagranicy
Poland's president on Wednesday named 27 new Supreme Court judges as part of legal changes by the country’s ruling conservatives amid a protracted standoff with Brussels over alleged rule-of-law breaches.
Polish presidential aides Paweł Mucha (right) and Błażej Spychalski (left) brief reporters at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw on Wednesday. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara
The new judges appointed by President Andrzej Duda are expected to work in the top court’s Civil Law and Criminal Law Chambers as well as its newly created Chamber of Extraordinary Supervision and Public Affairs, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
It quoted the deputy head of the President’s Office, Paweł Mucha, as saying that the appointments marked the latest stage of efforts to reform Poland’s justice system.
Mucha added that the president made the appointments "in accordance with the law" while being “guided by the public interest,” the IAR news agency reported.
The move comes after the European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation EU in September decided to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union over what Brussels said were violations of the judicial independence of the country's Supreme Court.
Poland's governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came to power in late 2015, has said that sweeping changes are needed to reform an inefficient and sometimes corrupt judicial system tainted by the communist past, accusing judges of being an elite, self-serving clique often out of touch with the problems of ordinary citizens.
But according to the European Commission, new Polish rules on the Supreme Court that effectively forced many judges aged 65 and over into retirement broke the principles of judicial independence and the "irremovability" of justices.
Warsaw and Brussels have been at odds over the rule of law in Poland after the governing conservative Law and Justice party introduced a slew of changes to the country's judiciary.
The European Commission last December took the unprecedented step of triggering Article 7 of the EU Treaty against Poland.
Since then, the EU executive has launched separate procedures against Warsaw in response to the more recent Supreme Court reforms.
President Duda last week said in a media interview that he was "waiting calmly" for the top EU court's decision on Poland's disputed Supreme Court reform.