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Press briefing on Poland

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Rupert Colville
Location: Geneva
Date: 20 December 2019
Subject:  Poland


We are concerned by draft legislation, submitted to the Polish parliament on 12 December, which risks further jeopardizing the independence of the judiciary in Poland and would place constraints on judges in exercising their freedom of association and freedom of expression. It could even result in judges being dismissed if they question the Government’s judicial reform.

The draft act which amends the existing law on the structure of common courts, law on the Supreme Court and a number of other acts, may also prevent judges from fulfilling their legal obligation, under EU treaties, to apply EU law.  In general, it risks further undermining the already heavily challenged independence of the judiciary in Poland. 

We understand some amendments, proposed by the ruling party, were apparently provided to the draft law overnight. However, I am unable to say whether these mitigate some of the concerns over the draft law, as the new version with amendments was not available online as of early this morning.  The second reading of the draft at the Parliament was scheduled to take place this morning

We urge the Polish Government and the members of the Parliament (Sejm) to consider carefully the potential impact of the draft legislation on the rule of law.

As a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Poland is required to ensure the independence of the judiciary, and as an incoming member of the UN Human Rights Council, Poland is also expected to set a high standard of compliance with international human rights law.  

Any measures which are contrary to the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary should immediately be lifted. 

For more information and media requests, please contact: Rupert Colville - + 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.orgor Media Section -mediaunit@ohchr.org

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