Urgent Call for Poland's President to Veto New Bills

The Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, a Liberties member, wrote this open letter to Polish President Andrzej Duda calling on him to veto new bills that would severely harm the independence of the country's judiciary.

Dear Mr. President,

On behalf of non-governmental organisations from across the world, yet again we appeal to you Mr. President to protect the Polish Constitution and the rule of law which it guarantees.

We call upon you, Mr. President, to veto two acts changing the functioning of the National Council of the Judiciary in Poland and the Supreme Court.

With great regret, we note that the draft acts presented by you, Mr. President, to the Parliament – as a consequence of a historical decision of July 2017 – once again pose a threat to the separation and independence of the justice system, and as a result to citizens’ right to justice.

The Act on the National Council of the Judiciary enables the Sejm to control the composition of an institution which is supposed to protect courts and judges from politicians. Moreover, the new Act on the Supreme Court allows for an arbitrary removal from office of some judges of the Supreme Court and creates an illusion of justice by introducing a new legal remedy in the form of an extraordinary appeal.

Mr. President, contrary to your declarations, the draft laws were not subject to wide public consultations. As a result, citizens’ right to an independent court has become a subject of a political accord whose shape was not agreed upon in cooperation with Polish citizens.

The acts fail to address the most important problems of the justice system in Poland. Quite the opposite, they pose new threats, undermining the certainty of law and court decisions issued in the last 20 years. They ruin the guarantees of judges’ independence and hand the justice system over to politicians.

At the same time, we would like to remind you, Mr. President, that in July 2017 the European Commission asked the Polish authorities notably not to take any measures to dismiss Supreme Court judges or force their retirement. If such measures were taken, the Commission stood ready to immediately trigger the Article 7(1) procedure of the Treaty on European Union.

Dear Mr. President,

The Polish citizens will bear the consequences of your signing the Acts on the National Council of the Judiciary in Poland and the Supreme Court for many years. The new acts will influence not only the shape of the Polish judiciary system, but also the position of Poland as a full-fledged member of the European Union.

Therefore, we appeal to you, Mr. President, to veto the Acts on the National Council of the Judiciary in Poland and the Supreme Court. As in July 2017, we appeal to you, Mr. President, not to disregard the heritage of the Polish fight for freedom and basic rights. At the moment, the fate of the right to a fair trial by an independent court for everybody within the jurisdiction of the Republic of Poland depends on you.


Danuta Przywara

President of the board

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights