Justice reform: Poland defends forced retirement of judges

Despite an impending lawsuit before the European Court of Justice, the Polish Government is holding its judicial reform. The EU sees the division of powers in the country at risk.

Justice reform: Poland defends forced retirement of judges

Poland has rejected criticism of forced retirement of numerous supreme judges. Despite EU infringement procedure, Polish government does not want to make any changes to controversial reform of judiciary and rejected a corresponding demand from European Commission. This is a statement from Foreign Ministry. The accusations from Brussels were not justified.

According to communication, Poland sent a reply to Commission, in which it was fully aware of concerns, it was said. "If Commission has any furr doubts, it may refer a complaint to European Court of Justice, which will decide definitively in case."

The European Commission considers independence of courts, separation of powers and thus EU fundamental values in Poland at risk. Since 2016, authority has been trying to stop or mitigate judicial reforms of right-wing Conservative government party PiS. In July, Commission decided to initiate infringement proceedings against Poland. Following renewed refusal of Poland to make possible changes to reform, Court of Justice could soon be prosecuted.

The reform, which has been in place since 3 July, stipulates that supreme judges must already retire with 65 instead of 70 years. At least 21 judges had to go prematurely after court claims. Seven of m had not denied extension of service until this week by President Andrzej Duda. Critics complain, no judges could be removed prematurely.

Legal experts warn against chaos

Poland's government denies this and maintains its previous argument in letter of Ministry of Foreign Affairs: After that, organisation of judicial system according to EU treaties is sole responsibility of Member States. So re is no breach of general EU law. In addition, reduction of retirement age does not limit independence of case law.

Polish legal experts of Judges ' Association Iustitia warned against a double occupation of judge posts and chaos at Supreme Court. While national conservatives are pushing ahead with recasting of judges, many supreme judges are fighting against ir forced retirement. "To remove myself from office and to retire was against my will," it says in statement of a judge on website of Supreme Court. Like many of her colleagues, she continues to be on duty, but does not want to judge case until European Court of Justice (ECJ) decides. At request of Warsaw Court, ECJ should examine compatibility of rules with EU law.

Date Of Update: 15 September 2018, 12:00

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