European judges' Warsaw protest resonates internationally

Filipe Marques, President of MEDEL, Magistrats européens pour la démocratie et les libertés
Filipe Marques, President of MEDEL, Magistrats européens pour la démocratie et les libertés

From New York to Tokyo, the stand taken by European judges in defence of the rule of law in Poland has made headlines across the world.

Judges From Across Europe March to Defend Polish Peers, The New York Times

Judges, lawyers and civil society activists from across Europe joined their Polish peers in a silent march in Warsaw to protest against systematic attacks on the independence of the Polish judiciary by the Polish Government.

New Europeans' partner organisation MEDELMagistrats Europeens pour la Democratie et les Libertes took part in the march, organised by two of MEDEL's member association, Iustitia and Lex Super Omnia.

Speaking in Warsaw at the international press conference that took place before the march, Filipe Marques, President of MEDEL said:

"For more than four years, MEDEL has been observing the process of deterioration of the rule of law in Poland. During this time, MEDEL has repeatedly called upon Polish authorities to stop this process, to restore the principle of separation of powers and to ensure the independence of the judiciary.

Our calls remained unanswered.

The Government of Poland as well as the President of Poland ignore the appeals of the international community, the verdicts of the European Court of Justice, the verdicts of the Polish Supreme Court and the verdicts of the Polish Supreme Administrative Court.

Moreover, the “reforms” in contrary to both – domestic and international law – continue, and all those trying to implement aforementioned rulings, become the subject of a ruthless “disciplinary” regime, become criminals in their own country.

The only objective of the Polish government is to reduce the independent judiciary and transform it to yet another strong arm of the executive.

Such situation is completely unlawful and unacceptable in a European Union Member State."

Prior to the march, a MEDEL delegation met with the new EU Commissioner of Justice, Didier Reynders, in Brussels.

Monika Frackowiak ,Vice-President of MEDEL and a district judge in Poznan who joined the delegation said: 

"We expressed our deep concern about the breaches of the fundamental principles of the Rule of Law.

And we appealed for a strong and determined reaction by the Commission, as guardian of the treaties."

The meeting with Commissioner Reynders builds on representations made by civil society groups from across Europe, including MEDEL and New Europeans, that came together in Milan in December.

Following a two day conference to discuss the rule of law in Poland and the future of Europe, the groups, led by Virgilio Dastoli, President of the Movimento Europeo Italiano, signed a joint statement called the Milan Declaration.

Speaking about the MEDEL initiative and the Milan Declaration, Roger Casale, Secretary General of New Europeans said:

"The Rule of Law issue in Poland and the discussion about the Future of Europe cannot be separated because respect of the law is not only a condition for membership of the European Union it is also a key element of our European identity as citizens.

When the Polish government interferes without sanction, with the right of judges to apply decisions made by the European Court of Justice, then all of us in the #EU, not just those living in Poland, must ask how we can be sure our rights will be protected?"

The Milan declaration entitled Empower Citizens for the Future of Europe  has been sent to the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Council, the Council of the Union, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.

Video statement by Monika Frackowiak

Further international press coverage of the Warsaw march:

Pologne : les juges manifestent contre un projet de loi prévoyant de sanctionner leur opposition, Le Monde

Judges From Across Europe March to Defend Polish Peers, The New York Times

European judges march to defend Polish peers targeted for firing under government bill, Japan Times

Irish judge joins Warsaw march over 'threat to indpendence of judiciary', The Irish Times

Judges join silent rally to defend Polish justice, The Guardian




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