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Poland

    July 19, 2017
      Following the news that the European Union has threatened to trigger Article 7 against Poland if currently tabled judicial reforms are passed into law, Iverna McGowan Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office said:   “Triggering Article 7 would be an unprecedented move, and the strong message sent by the EU today that it is close to making that step is a welcome demonstration of the seriousness with which it’s taking the assault on judicial independence in Poland.   “The Law and Justice Party’s ongoing efforts to dismantle Poland’s system of checks and balances is at a critical phase. The prosecution service and the Constitutional Tribunal of the country’s justice system is already under the political control of the government. Successful passage of these current reforms would amount to a wholesale political takeover of the judiciary. The consequences of this for the future integrity of Polish justice are far reaching and deeply concerning.’’  
    July 18, 2017
      Amnesty International is alarmed by the amendments to the Law on the National Council of Judiciary and the Law on Common Courts adopted by the parliament: the lower chamber, Sejm on 12 July and the Senate on 15 July. The amendments are now awaiting the signature of the President of Poland. Another amendment, of the Law on the Supreme Court, put on the agenda of Sejm at night of 12 July raises further concerns over the government’s attempt to put the judiciary under political control.   This amendment is going for the first hearing on 18 July. The changes and why they are problematic are listed below.   These changes follow earlier, already problematic amendments to the composition of the Constitutional Tribunal that severely affected its independence to the extent that the European Commission issued a recommendation under the Rule of Law Framework in which it found that there was a “systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland”.  Another source of concern in relation to the independence of the justice system is the large-scale personnel changes in the prosecution service carried out in 2016.
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