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Passionate Protests In Warsaw

By on July 27, 2017

By Raymond Rolak

WARSAW—  Ignoring stern warnings from the European Union and tens of thousands of protesters, Poland’s Parliament gave final approval to a landmark measure that would restructure the Supreme Court.  This would put control of Poland’s highest court under the rule of the governing, Law and Justice Party.

The new law was the latest in a series of acts from the Law and Justice party that critics say are aimed at curtailing the judiciary.  If President Andrzej Duda signs the laws, as expected, Poland will take its largest step away from their former style of democracy.

After a long day and evening of heated and passionate debate, the Polish Senate approved the new Supreme Court legislation at 2 a.m. by a vote of 55 to 23.  Before the vote, protest leaders called for a rally in the square outside the Supreme Court.  This was the same space where President Trump spoke two weeks ago, praising the government and offering no criticism of the court plan.  All throughout Warsaw candle lit protests stretched across the central city center.

The U. S. State Department offered this assessment.  “The Polish government has continued to pursue legislation that appears to undermine judicial independence and weaken the rule of law in Poland,” it said in a written statement.  “We urge all sides to ensure that any judicial reform does not violate Poland’s constitution or international legal obligations and respects the principles of judicial independence and separation of powers.”

Pressure was brought to bear on Mr. Duda from domestic critics and the European Union.   Under the new law, all current judges on the Supreme Court will be dismissed and the justice minister will appoint new ones.  The bill still has to be passed by the upper house of the Polish parliament, the Senate, and signed into effect by Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Poles also brought candles to local courthouses and chanted “Free Courts!”


Editor’s Note:   Raymond Rolak is in Poland teaching baseball and covering The World Games 2017- Wrocław.