Poland’s Supreme Court Justice defies ‘purge’

08 July, 2018, 01:39 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Polish President Andrzej Duda

Introduced by Poland's Law and Justice (PiS) government, the new retirement age came into force on Tuesday, compelling more than a third of the Supreme Court's 73 judges to step down.

In the afternoon in the Sejm (lower house), Gersdorf, who presented a closing report on her court for the previous year, said her official status remained the same as before the earlier talks with the president, and stressed that she was constitutionally bound to serve a six-year term. "I'm doing this to defend the rule of law and to testify the truth about the line between the constitution and the violation of the constitution", Gersdorf told journalists and supporters outside the court.

Poland is on the verge of removing almost 40 percent of its Supreme Court judges, as a new law, which requires judges to retire at the age of 65 and also expands the Supreme Court significantly, is set to comes into force.

Walesa, who negotiated a peaceful end to communism in Poland in 1989, told protesters that the current government was "violating the constitution".

The European Commission, the EU's principal administrative body, has contested the law and on Monday announced it had launched an infringement procedure against it. Critics counter that it is PiS which is systematically dismantling any post-Communist institutions created to rein in government's power and protect democracy.

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Gersdorf said Tuesday that she will "go on vacation" after showing up at work on Wednesday. Also, according to the reform, the Minister of justice can assign judges and to dismiss.

But he noted that shifting from coal to natural gas was particularly challenging for Poland because the latter could only be sourced from Russian Federation, "so all efforts to increase our use of gas would have destabilized our security", Morawiecki said.

Hundreds gathered to wave European Union flags and placards reading "constitution" to show their support for the supreme court judge.

Prof Gersdorf, who is already 65, met President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday.

People holding placards reading "Mr President you swore on the constitution" (L) and "Free court of law, free elections, free Poland" and constitution booklets demonstrate in support of Supreme Court judges in front of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland on July 3, 2018.

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Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the ruling party leader, said in an interview published Wednesday by the Gazeta Polska daily that the judges' "action" will result in their "shameful disaster".

Amnesty International last month warned that Polish citizens' human rights were at risk from "systematic erosion of guarantees for an independent judiciary" and urged the Polish government and parliament to amend the laws in question.

In December, Brussels triggered article seven proceedings against Poland over "systemic threats" to the rule of law.

Anti-government protests have broken out in Warsaw and several other Polish cities in defense of the country's constitution, judicial independence and the rule of law. Supreme Court judges, however, say that it signals Poland's slow descent into authoritarianism.

This could mean Warsaw's European Union voting rights might be suspended.

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"If there is a systemic threat to the rule of law, we can not simply turn a blind eye".

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