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ODF’s & Themis’s input to the UN’s Annual Report on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

We are very proud to see our input included in the UN Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego García-Sayán. The report focuses on the disciplinary proceedings against judges for alleged misconduct in the exercise of their functions. It also covers “disguised” sanctions imposed on judges with the aim of intimidating, harassing or otherwise interfering with the professional activities of judges. 

As in previous years, the report includes several observations regarding the worrying developments in Poland. For instance, judges continue to be subjected to disciplinary proceedings on the basis of overly general and vague grounds for disciplinary action. In particular, in Poland a retired judge may be subjected to disciplinary responsibility either after retiring or during his or her time in service.

Additionally, the concerns regarding the Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court were highlighted. Its members are selected by the “new” National Council of the Judiciary, which is largely dominated by the political appointees of the current ruling majority. Likewise, the adoption of an Act with regard to the Polish Supreme Court, which lowered the mandatory age of retirement for Supreme Court judges from 70 to 65 was outlined. This measure, in the Special Rapporteur’s view, would result in the early retirement of approximately 40 percent of judges and constitute a disguised measure to get rid of “old” judges appointed by the previous parliamentary majority and replenish them with new judges chosen along political lines.

We are pleased to be one of only four civil society organisations whose input was used, and notably, the only one from Poland. Nevertheless, we would like to reiterate that our input was submitted together with the “THEMIS” Association of Judges. In this context, we want to express our gratitude to the independent and resilient Polish judges, and thank them for their collaboration. The updated and detailed information on the persecution of judges in Poland provided by them undoubtedly made this input valuable for the UN Special Rapporteur.

The full report can be found here and below.