Monday, July 24, 2017

Poland's president Andrzej Duda to veto law that would have put supreme court under control of ruling party

Duda said he consulted many experts before making his decision, including lawyers, sociologists, politicians and philosophers. But he said the person who influenced him the most was Zofia Romaszewska, a leading anti-Communist dissident in the 1970s and 1980s. He said Romaszewska told him: “Mr President, I lived in a state where the prosecutor general had an unbelievably powerful position and could practically do everything. I would not like to go back to such a state.”

Poland’s president has said he will veto controversial judicial reforms that have sparked days of nationwide street protests and prompted the EU to threaten unprecedented sanctions. “I have decided to send back to parliament – in which case to veto – the law on the supreme court, as well as the law on the National Council of the Judiciary,” Andrzej Duda said in a televised announcement. “The law would not strengthen the sense of justice in society,” he added, explaining that his decision came after lengthy consultations with legal experts over the weekend. “These laws must be amended,” he said.

The reforms proposed by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) would have increased political control over Poland’s judiciary. They triggered an angry response from critics, who accused PiS of trying to curtail the independence of the courts. Duda’s declaration marks the first time that he has publicly split with Jarosław Kaczyński, the head of PiS. Since his inauguration, Duda has been seen as something of a Kaczyński puppet.

Some commentators are sceptical whether his apparent assertion of authority is authentic, or merely an attempt to quell the protests; cynics believe Duda will propose amendments that do little to address the main concerns about the legislation. But Duda insisted that political interference in the judiciary should not be up for discussion. Among the changes was a proposal to allow the attorney general, a position held by the justice minister, to be able to influence decisions by the supreme court.

“It should not be part of our tradition that the attorney general can interfere in the work of the supreme court,” Duda said… read more: