21 July 2017 (updated 24 July 2017)

BHRC has  sent a letter to the President of Poland and released a Statement of Concern to the British Ambassador in Poland, raising serious concern over proposed changes to the Polish judiciary. The changes would give the Polish government substantial influence over the appointment of judges, eroding the independence of the judiciary and threatening the rule of law in Poland.

In a joint press release with the Bar Council, BHRC Chair Kirsty Brimelow QC said:

“For a democracy to survive and flourish, a robust rule of law and an independent judiciary are essential. The mechanism for the appointment of the judiciary is crucial. The selection must be without bias or the appearance of bias. Thereafter the Judges must be able to and allowed to work independently in a position with security of tenure. Independent judicial appointment and independent judicial functioning enables due process as well as people’s confidence in due process.  Poland must heed the informed opposition to its proposed new legislation and step off the path it has embarked upon.”

Executive Board member Professor Bill Bowring said:

“The Bar Human Rights Committee urges the Polish government to pull back from the dangerous attacks on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law on which it has now embarked!”

The Bar Human Rights Committee calls upon the President of Poland to reject these draft laws and to withdraw and repeal all the measures which pose such a grave threat to judicial independence and the rule of law in light of:

  • Clear provisions of the Polish Constitution which declares the state’s commitment to an independent judiciary
  • Poland’s obligations under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human rights and Article 14.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to have all cases heard by an independent and impartial judiciary.
  • And the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary and the 2010 Recommendations of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on judicial independence, efficiency, and responsibility.

You can read the full statement here.

You can read the Bar Council’s letter to the President of Poland here.

NOTE: A previous version of the statement indicated that a joint session of the Sejm and Senate passed the draft bill.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

 

  1. For an interview with our spokesperson, please contact Amanda June Chadwick on +44 (0)7854 197862

 

  1. For more information on the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC), visit our website at http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk

 

  1. The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) is the international human rights arm of the Bar of England and Wales, working to protect the rights of advocates, judges and human rights defenders around the world. The BHRC is concerned with defending the rule of law and internationally recognised legal standards relating to human rights and the right to a fair trial. It is independent of the Bar Council.