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Judges to march in solidarity with Polish judiciary’s battle for independence
Supreme Court Justice John MacMenamin Pic: RollingNews.ie

08 Jan 2020 / courts Print

Judges march in solidarity with Polish judiciary

Irish Supreme Court judge Mr Justice John MacMenamin and other European legal professionals will march on Saturday in protest against court reforms in Poland.

The Irish judge will wear full robes for the ‘silent march’. He will carry letters of support from Chief Justice Frank Clarke and the Association of Judges in Ireland (AJI).

Polish judges associations Iustitia and Themis invited Chief Justice Frank Clarke to attend but he was already committed to the opening of the legal year in Paris.

He therefore asked Judge MacMenamin to represent him.

Members of the judiciary from Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, and the three Baltic countries will also join the march.

Concern

The letters from the chief justice and the AJI will express concern at the Polish government’s planned measures. Organisers say the march is non-political and centred on legal issues and values.

“It’s important to have people say ‘enough is enough’, because a campaign against judges has been running for years, with government politicians leading the attacks,” said organiser, Poznan district judge Monika Frackowiak.

Justice Frackowiak is said to have suffered years of intimidation and harassment in relation to her stance on judicial independence.

“I feel like an entire machinery is against me,” she said late last year. She is one of more than 30 Polish judges who have been subjected to ongoing disciplinary procedures.

Fair trials

Justice Frackowiak has spoken publicly about the importance of fair trials. She has criticised changes to Poland’s judiciary made by the ruling PiS party, and described the government-controlled Constitutional Tribunal as a mockery of justice.

Between September 2017 and February 2018, the Polish authorities removed more than 130 presidents and vice-presidents of the common courts, and replaced them with officials chosen by the Minister for Justice.

The law on the Supreme Court was also changed, so that members of parliament rather than judges themselves have the power to make judicial appointments.

CJEU ruling

In June 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the amended law on the Supreme Court was in breach of EU law.

On 5 November 2019, the court also declared that the law, which introduced different retirement ages for female and male judges, was discriminatory and against EU law.  

 

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland