OSCE PA’s Sanchez Amor concerned at ‘assault on judicial independence’ in Poland, calls for reversal of recent steps

3rd comm ISAIgnacio Sanchez Amor at the OSCE PA's Annual Session in Minsk, 5 July 2017COPENHAGEN, 21 July 2017 – The Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee, Spanish parliamentarian Ignacio Sanchez Amor, today expressed deep concern at recent actions taken by the ruling party in Poland related to reforming the judiciary.

“It is hard to see the recent actions as anything other than a dedicated assault on judicial independence by Poland’s current governing party,” said Sanchez Amor. “Serious damage has already been done to Poland’s reputation with these steps, but I call on President Andrzej Duda to reject the legislation and thereby avert lasting damage to the rule of law in the country.”

Last week parliament endorsed legislation that enables the parliament to choose the body that oversees the selection of judges, and which is supposed to ensure the independence of the judiciary. Legislation was also passed that enables the Justice Minister to dismiss and appoint chief justices.

Sanchez Amor, who was re-elected as the Chair of the OSCE PA’s General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions earlier this month, noted that, taken together, the changes would allow the ruling party to effectively retain control over judicial appointments for at least the next four years.

“Poland has committed, within the OSCE, to ensure the independence of judges in both law and practice. These recent steps run directly counter to the obligations that Poland has itself committed to uphold, and must be reversed,” Sanchez Amor said.

In the OSCE’s 1990 Copenhagen Document OSCE participating States declared that “the independence of judges and the impartial operation of the public judicial service will be ensured,” and further expanded on this in the 1991 Moscow Document with the commitment to “ensure that the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed and enshrined in the constitution or the law of the country and is respected in practice, paying particular attention to the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, which, inter alia, provide for prohibiting improper influence on judges.”

Sanchez Amor promised to continue to closely follow developments in the country.



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