Today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, published a report on the visit to Poland she carried out from 11 to 15 March 2019. The report focuses on the independence of the judiciary and the prosecution service, women’s sexual and reproductive rights, gender equality and domestic violence.
The Commissioner considers that Poland’s wide-ranging judicial reform has had a major impact on the functioning and independence of the country’s justice system, fundamentally affecting its key building blocks. The reform, accompanied by a polarising public campaign to discredit judges, has led to protests by both the legal professions and the general public. “Members of the executive and the legislature have a duty to uphold the independence of the judiciary and to avoid undermining public confidence in it”, says the Commissioner, adding that “the Polish authorities should exercise responsibility and lead by example in their public discourse”. She also recommends subjecting any legislation relating to the judicial reform to thorough consultation with members of the judicial community and other relevant actors. “Improving accountability or efficiency of the justice system may not be pursued at the expense of judicial independence”, concludes the Commissioner.