Press release

Poland: Restrictive Judiciary Law Sets Dangerous Precedent

Poland's new "muzzle law" sets a dangerous precedent for antiliberal politicians in and outside Europe.

Washington

In response to the Polish parliament’s adoption of a new law that restricts judicial independence, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The ruling Law and Justice party is waging an all-out war against the judges of its own country and against the rule of law. The adoption of the so-called muzzle law will have far-reaching consequences for Poland, but also for the European legal system,” said Zselyke Csaky, research director for Europe and Eurasia at Freedom House. “A country in which the ruling party decides what the law means and which court decisions are valid breaks with the most fundamental tenets of democracy. It also sets a dangerous precedent for antiliberal politicians inside and outside Europe.”

Background:

On January 23, the Polish parliament passed a law that will allow the government to fire judges whose rulings it does not approve of. The legislation will also subject judges who are criticizing the government’s reforms to disciplinary proceedings. International bodies have condemned the new law; the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has said it “violates international standards and contradicts OSCE commitments.”

Also on January 23, Poland’s Supreme Court, one of the country’s remaining independent judicial bodies, ruled that appointments to the judiciary council made after Law and Justice took control of the body were illegitimate. (The party had taken control of the council last year, after changing the appointments procedure.) The justice minister argued the Supreme Court’s ruling was a “gross violation” and had “no legal effects.”

Poland is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2019 and is a Consolidated Democracy in Nations in Transit 2018.