The European Association of Judges publicly expresses its unbreakable solidarity to Judge Beata Morawiec. The European Association of Judges urges the European Commission to take all necessary measures to urgently reestablish the EU legal order in Poland" - the President of the European Association of Judges (EAJ), José Igreja Matos, Tweeted on Monday.
The organization is a regional group of the International Association of Judges, bringing together representatives from 44 European countries. Its declared aim is to safeguard the independence of the judiciary. In its most recent statement, the EAJ refers to the situation in Poland.
On Monday, the contested Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court decided to revoke the immunity of Beata Morawiec- a judge of the District Court in Kraków and the chair of the association of judges “Themis” who sued the Minister of Justice for defamation and won the case in a court of the first instance. The Public Prosecutor’s Office overseen by the Minister is now threatening her with corruption charges. While the decision is to be enforced immediately, it not binding.
The entire Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, which decided to start criminal proceedings against Judge Beata Morawiec, has been staffed with the help of a politicized National Council of the Judiciary and is thus an illegitimate body. In January, the three chambers of the Supreme Court ruled that “the Disciplinary Chamber is not a court and cannot continue to act as one”. Yet, even so, the Disciplinary Chamber continues to rule on cases concerning judicial immunity and the prosecutor’s office respects its decisions.
Although the case against Judge Morawiec allegedly constitutes a criminal proceeding, in its decision, the Chamber still imposed disciplinary measures: the judge was suspended from exercising her professional duties, and her salary has been reduced by 50%.
Judges: "All red lines have been crossed"
"The Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court is not a court and cannot continue to act as one. However, in blatant disobedience to this decision of the European Court of Justice, this bogus body today waived the immunity of Beata Morawiec " – reads the statement published by the European Association of Judges.
"This is a direct and blatant violation of ECJ order of 08.04.2020, suspending the so-called Disciplinary Chamber in the disciplinary proceedings against judges” – wrote the European Judges for Democracy and Freedom (MEDEL), another organization commenting on the ruling.
MEDEL is an NGO gathering 23 associations of judges and prosecutors coming from 16 European countries. “MEDEL does not recognize today’s decision, considers Beata Morawiec an active judge and expresses her its full support and solidarity" – its members wrote.
"This illegal activity must result in immediate action from the European institutions, mainly the European Commission, within its role of guardian of the Treaties, on the basis of art. 260 (2) TFEU. The time for mere expressions of concern is long gone - all red lines have been crossed. We can no longer watch passively the destruction of the European legal system" – they added.
On Tuesday, the Association of European Administrative Judges (AEAJ) also joined in. "Organs of the Polish State have ignored the binding decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union. We urge the European Commission to respond to this devastation of rule of law as well as of the European legal system”- reads the official statement issued by the organization.
Christian Wigand: We’re watching these developments with great concern
- We are familiar with this case. As you know, it is our custom to refrain from commenting on individual cases, but I want to make it clear that we are watching with concern the developments related to the activities of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court- said the EU Commission spokesperson for rule of law, Christian Wigand, on Wednesday. - I don’t want to speculate about the steps taken in the context of the EU law infringement procedure. It is an option that we can always use if necessary - he added.
The European Commission already conducts this type of procedure against the Disciplinary Chamber, which, according to Brussels, cannot guarantee an independent judgment. It is within the framework of this very procedure that the EC succeeded in urging the Court of Justice of the EU to freeze the Chamber's activities. However, this procedure concerns disciplinary, and not criminal cases. Therefore, Brussels has not yet intervened in cases concerning judicial immunity.
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