The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has published a report on the prevention of corruption in respect of members of parliament, judges and prosecutors. This report contains an update of GRECO’s critical assessment of the 2016-2018 reforms concerning the Polish judiciary, which – GRECO concluded – had significantly weakened the judiciary’s independence.
The GRECO report now stresses that “unfortunately, this situation is further exacerbated by the December 2019 amendments to the Law on Ordinary Courts, the Law on the Supreme Court and certain other laws” and by later developments regarding disciplinary proceedings against judges, which have left judges increasingly vulnerable to political control. While noting recent judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and the EU’s Court of Justice and news that the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court might be abolished, GRECO implores the Polish authorities to address all its outstanding recommendations. They concern such issues as the election to and composition of the National Council of the Judiciary, the establishment of the Disciplinary Chamber and Extraordinary Appeals Chamber at the Supreme Court, the involvement of the executive in the internal organisation of the Supreme Court, appointments and dismissals of court presidents and vice-presidents, and disciplinary proceedings against judges.
In another report published today to prevent corruption and promote integrity of persons holding top executive functions (ministers etc.) and law enforcement agencies, GRECO notes that Poland has dealt with “in a satisfactory manner” only one of the 21 recommendations from its Fifth Round Evaluation Report, adopted more than two years ago. While GRECO welcomes “some positive steps” taken by the police to improve methods of identifying corruption risks, it also finds that Poland does not adequately address integrity issues related to top executive functions in the central government. (see the French and Polish version of the report).