The Constitutional Court of Poland: The Battle for Judicial Independence

Author: 
Mikołaj Pietrzak
Publication date: 
Wed, 24 May 2017

In this policy brief, human rights and criminal lawyer Mikołaj Pietrzak argues that Poland's ruling party is implementing a programme of deep constitutional, social, and political change, including limitations on the role of the judiciary, which poses a threat to the constitutionally enshrined separation of powers in the fledgling democracy.

A former Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the Polish Bar Council, the author contends that the Law and Justice Party, through a series of statutes relating to the functioning of the Constitutional Court and the process of appointing new judges, has managed to undermine the position and legal stability of the Court.

Moreover, in its refusal to publish crucial judgments of the Constitutional Court (without legal authority to do so), the government has raised the threat of dualism in the Polish legal system, which in turn presents a serious threat to the protection of rights and freedoms of Polish citizens.

The policy brief details the political and legal changes occurring in Poland in recent years, and suggests that, despite resistance from within the judicial system and popular protests, the continued independence of the judiciary may only be secured through the combined efforts of internal and international actors.