Polish president sees flaws in contentious law on top court


Poland's Senate was poised Friday to back legislation that would give politicians substantial influence over the country's Supreme Court, a move that critics say would defy the principles of the European Union.

Saturday's Senate vote was 55-23 with two abstentions.

"Today, where the government has begun to make the activities of Poland's supreme court as well as those of the council managing the courts subject to its own, it is clear that we're looking at a general attempt to limit the independence of Poland's judiciary as a whole", Pikamäe said. Critics say that will kill off judicial independence.

To become law, the proposal still has to be signed by President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Law and Justice says the measures are long-overdue judicial reforms purging communist influence from the courts.

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If the EU Commission fights and wins this struggle over the Supreme Court Bill now before the Polish parliament, it will confirm the bureaucracy's view that it should and can exercise sovereignty over democratically elected governments, whether the latter are progressive or reactionary.

In Poland, past presidents, activists and rights groups were among those to speak out against the judicial reforms, raising concerns about the erosion of laws and freedoms in Poland.

Although the State Department released a statement on Friday that criticized the pending laws, a Polish journalist wrote for the Daily Beast that Trump's visit two weeks ago served as "a ringing endorsement" of Poland's government that encouraged "the government's most authoritarian tendencies".

The sweeping powers to dismiss and appoint the country's judges backed by the ruling Law and Justice Party do not bode well for civil and political liberties in Poland.

Thousands of government opponents are gathering in Warsaw, Krakow and other cities across Poland to urge President Andrzej Duda to reject legislation that would give the ruling party control of the Supreme Court and the judiciary.

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PiS has offered no concessions, instead presenting the European Union criticism as unacceptable foreign meddling in the domestic affairs of the country, which overthrew communism in 1989 and joined the European Union in 2004. "We will not be intimidated by Polish and foreign defenders of the interests of the elite", Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said in an address on state television.

Leader of Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, center, attends a debate before a vote on the bill calling for an overhaul of the Supreme Court.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have descended into the streets across the country in recent days to protest the proposed law.

Speaking to Poland's TVN24, Tusk repeated his readiness for talks and said he was a "little disappointed" there has been no meeting.

"I've said before that attacking the independence of the courts is the first sign of democracy in danger".

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"Poland's president should be concerned about a situation that is, let's say, serious", Tusk said. He said they are in conflict with the EU's principles and are damaging to Poland's global standing.