The Open Dialogue Foundation strongly advocated in Brussels against the destruction of the rule of law in Poland. Ever since its inception, the Foundation has had to confront a series of bizarre attacks and slanders whose legitimacy cannot be verified by common citizens. However, one cannot deny that the ODF, which keeps on alerting European public about the ongoing destruction of our judicial system, is definitely a thorn in the flesh of the destroyers.
Bartosz Kramek, Chairman of the ODF Board, has been remanded in custody for three months and is subject to serious pre-trial proceedings. An enormous bail of PLN 300,000 has been set. I do not know what he has been charged with – apart from what has been stated in the press – or whether such allegations have anything to do with reality.
However, the main problem here is the destruction of the Polish judicial system. As a consequence, no one can tell whether certain proceedings are instituted for political reasons or otherwise. This is the consequence of combining the political roles performed by the Minister of Justice with those of the General Prosecutor (who disposes of unprecedented power), which is completely unacceptable from the point of view of the rule of law. All in all, such positions should be safeguarded against all sorts of political influence. We have always stressed, including in our Featured Articles, that the integrity of public prosecutors is highly questionable in politically sensitive cases.
The Open Dialogue Foundation strongly advocated in Brussels against the destruction of the rule of law in Poland. Ever since its inception, the Foundation has had to confront a series of bizarre attacks and slanders whose legitimacy cannot be verified by common citizens. However, one cannot deny that the ODF, which keeps on alerting the European public about the ongoing destruction of our judicial system, is definitely a thorn in the flesh of the destroyers.
The loss of independence of our judicial system will not be manifested in all cases. As a matter of fact, most proceedings will remain unaffected. This was the case in communist times and happens in all authoritarian states. Hence, the majority of people do not suspect that they may suddenly be victimised by such a judicial system if the ruling elite considers their case relevant. And in this case we are dealing with an opponent of the ruling elite. His accusers include public prosecutors who are completely dependent on the ruling politicians and who have not been safeguarded in any way whatsoever against political influences or the interests of those currently in power. It is highly unlikely that a lawsuit will be brought against a political opponent on purely legal grounds. The current shaping of the system does not guarantee anyone due process and a fair trial. Moreover, the judges obliged to adjudicate in such proceedings may be easily threatened by criminal or disciplinary penalties – which, in most cases, are imposed by the ruling politicians.
In order to prevent this, the CCD [Committee for the Defence of Democracy] organised a series of candlelight vigils in the vicinity of court buildings, bearing in mind that the loss of judicial independence is tantamount to the collapse of democracy and the rule of law. It is also the collapse of equal justice under the law and the right to a fair trial. Currently in Poland there is no possibility to resolve Mr Kramek’s case in such a way as to make us, the citizens, feel that his trial has been fair, and that he has not been the victim of a political vendetta and the perversion of justice. This inconclusiveness has already become a permanent feature of the Polish political system. The turmoil surrounding the Foundation is also meant to scare off anyone interested in helping. However, it is the CCD’s duty to stand up for certain principles.
I have no idea whether Bartosz Kramek is guilty of any of the alleged offences or not. We will never find out – at least not in the present times of politicised prosecutors and political pressures on courts – irrespective of the actual outcome of the proceedings. Bartosz Kramek has been deprived of the right to have his case considered by an independent court. In fact, the pending proceedings simply violate the standards set forth by the European Convention on Human Rights. Indeed, we have stooped really low as a state.
The present article reflects the author’s opinion only and does not represent the position of CCD Małopolskie Regional Board.