Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Uganda protests: 1 dead, several injured during clashes with police

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

#MeToo and the court of public opinion

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

S&P 500 ties record for longest bull run

Read more

THE DEBATE

Day 100 for Oleg Sentsov: Crimean-born filmmaker on indefinite hunger strike

Read more

IN THE PRESS

‘Asia Weinstein’: Italian press relishes Argento assault allegations

Read more

FOCUS

Venezuela: Worsening economic crisis erodes Chavista stronghold

Read more

ENCORE!

Strike a pose: The Studio Harcourt on capturing star profiles across the decades

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Jacob Zuma corruption scandal: Influence-peddling inquiry opens

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

#MeToo accuser accused in turn

Read more

Europe

Thousands protest as Polish president signs disputed judicial reforms

© Janek Skarzynski, AFP | The European Union has described the reforms as a threat to judicial indipendence.

Video by Owen BARNELL

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2018-07-27

Thousands of people staged protests across Poland on Thursday after President Andrzej Duda signed into law a measure effectively letting the government choose the next Supreme Court chief.

The European Union, human rights groups and opposition parties in Poland say the legislation and other changes pushed by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party undermine judicial independence and democracy.

Crowds gathered outside the presidential palace in Warsaw chanting: "Shame." Many held candles and pens, referring to Duda's readiness to sign. They shouted: "Break the pen" and "You will go to prison."

A Reuters witness said scuffles broke out with police after demonstrators wrote slogans on the pavement in front of the presidential palace and that pepper spray was used.

"Someone in the crowd used gas against police officers," said a spokesman for the Warsaw police, Sylwester Marczak. "Due to the threat, one of the policemen also used a hand-held gas device."

Protests took place in more than two dozen cities and towns across Poland.

The PiS party has said an overhaul is needed to make the courts more efficient and eradicate the influence of Poland's communist past.

"Without (judiciary) reforms, we cannot rebuild the Polish state so that it serves its citizens," said Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the eurosceptic party that combines left-leaning economics with nationalist politics.

Earlier this month, 22 Supreme Court judges were forced into early retirement, but chief judge Malgorzata Gersdorf has refused to go, saying her constitutional term does not expire until 2020.

The latest amendment, which was adopted by the upper house of parliament earlier this week, is designed to make it easier to name the new Supreme Court head.

Since PiS won power in 2015, dozens of judges have been effectively dismissed from the Constitutional Tribunal, the National Judiciary Council, which decides judicial appointments, and now the Supreme Court.

New appointments have used procedures that give parliament, where the PiS has a majority, greater say over the courts and the government more control over judges.

The European Commission is running an unprecedented "rule-of-law investigation" that could lead to the suspension of Poland's voting rights in the 28-member bloc. It has also opened several separate legal cases against Poland, the largest former communist EU state, including some over the Supreme Court.

(REUTERS)

Date created : 2018-07-27

  • POLAND - EU

    Poland defies EU as law forcing judges to retire comes into force

    Read more

  • POLAND

    Polish top judge defies retirement order 'to protect the rule of law'

    Read more

  • EU - HUNGARY

    Can the EU halt the Eastern slide toward authoritarianism?

    Read more

COMMENT(S)