In the latest instance of the Polish authorities’ open disregard for the rule of law, 14 Cracow judges have been exposed to politicised prosecution and investigations. Their alleged crime? Handing down judgments which were inconvenient for the authorities and failing to persecute Prosecutor Krasoń – a staunch defender of the independence of the judiciary.
This affront to the rule of law has compelled a group of over 30 leading legal scholars and NGOs to sign an open letter to the European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová and Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, urging them to commence the necessary monitoring of the unlawful pressure exerted upon the independent Cracow judges without undue delay.
In her 16 December 2020 State of the Union address EC President von der Leyen pledged that the new conditionality mechanism should be applied and cover all breaches from 1 January 2021 – to which the Polish authorities responded by once again shrugging off the EU warning. Thus, the signatories of the letter appealed to the EC to act on its own promises.
The letter, co-authored by the Open Dialogue Foundation and the Themis Association of Judges, was published in well-respected media outlets: Verfassungsblog – a German publication on constitutional law, and OKO.press – a Polish portal performing watchdog activities.
One of the most respected prosecutors in the country, Mariusz Krasoń ,has handled many high-profile cases, including large organized crimes cases in Cracow. At a meeting of prosecutors in 2018, Krasoń spoke out about the politicisation of the prosecutor service. Consequently, he has been repeatedly transferred to positions with a much smaller profile in cities far away from his previous postings. Krasoń has now sued the prosecutor’s office for his punitive demotion.
Now, judges who examined cases related to the reinstatement of Prosecutor Mariusz Krasoń – all issuing decisions in favour of Krasoń – have been and are being persecuted for their purely judicial actions. The Internal Affairs Department of the National Public Prosecutor’s Office has summoned 14 judges from five different benches of Cracow’s district, regional, and appellate courts. The judges now face potential criminal charges under Art. 231(1) of the Penal Code for failure to fulfil obligations as public officials, punishable by up to three years of imprisonment.
See our other letters to the European Commission:
- World’s leading legal scholars in defence of judge Tuleya – ODF’s follow-up letter to the European Commission (9 June 2020)
- The decisive phase of the fight for the rule of law in Poland: an open letter to the European Commission (29 April 2020, in Polish)
- ODF among signatories of the letter to the President of EC regarding the breach of the rule of law in Poland (17 December 2019)
See our other activities on the rule of law front:
- Polish & Moldovan judges must remain independent. A firm resolution adopted by PACE (26 February 2021)
- How we fought for the rule of law in Poland: recap of our activities in 2020 (28 December 2020, in Polish)
- ODF holds online hearing for MEPs with persecuted Polish judges (9 October 2020)
- How should the EU support the Polish judiciary? Оn-line hearing invitation (1 October 2020)
- “Law and Justice’s Campaign against Polish Judiciary” – ODF’s hearing in the European Parliament (17 December 2019)
- ODF welcomes persecuted Polish judges and prosecutors in Brussels (16 December 2019)
- Polish media about the conference organised by the ODF in the EP with the participation of persecuted Polish judges (13 December 2019)
- Position of the Open Dialogue Foundation in the case of Judge Dariusz Mazur (19 November 2019)
- Attacks on judges and independent prosecutors in Poland. An ODF event at the OSCE forum (30 September 2019)
Cover photo: polityka.pl