Polish Supreme Court reform bill stirs up controversies

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-21 02:12:54|Editor: yan
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WARSAW, July 20 (Xinhua) -- The reform bill on Poland's Supreme Court that was passed by the lower house of Polish parliament, the Sejm, on Thursday has stirred up controversies in Poland and abroad.

The bill, which will be reviewed by the Senate on Thursday evening, rejected over 1,300 amendments filed by the opposition groups, included proposals made by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Under the bill, the major changes to the law include: splitting the Supreme Court into three chambers, changing the appointment regulations for judges belonging to the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) and making them electable by three-fifths Sejm majority, as well as increasing the role of the Polish president in appointing and dismissing the Supreme Court judges.

The president would also be able to decide which of the Supreme Court judges would continue their duties and exempt chosen members of the court's present line-up from retirement. The decision, however, will have to refer to judges indicated by the justice minister. The president will also enjoy the right to define the court's statute.

Reacting to the news on Thursday, European Council President Donald Tusk proposed an urgent meeting with Duda to discuss the political crisis in Poland, cautioning that their common task was to prevent Poland from becoming marginalized in Europe.

The European Commission on Wednesday expressed "grave concern" for "the clear risks for the independence of the judiciary" in Poland, saying it would take legal action against Warsaw next week, in the wake of the series of judiciary bills proposed.

Under Article 7 of the EU treaty, a sanction mechanism is to be triggered if a member state makes "a serious and persistent breach" of the rule of law. The member state concerned faces suspension of certain rights, including subject voting rights in the Council of the EU. The mechanism has so far not been used.

On Wednesday, Polish ruling PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said the judiciary reform is an exclusively internal affair, and Poland is dealing with abuse and a political plot.

He made the remarks in response to criticism Wednesday of Poland's judiciary reform by Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans.

"I am convinced that among the heavy fighting and obstruction, and perhaps adventures (...) we can go through with this, we are prepared for this," the Polish leader said.

On July 12, the Polish parliament adopted two bills which the opposition said would politicize the judiciary and further subordinate it to the executive powers.