Venice Commission: Poland’s recent reforms constitute “grave threat” to judiciary

International constituion experts have warned that Poland’s recent legal reforms threaten the independence of the country’s judiciary.

In an opinion adopted today, the Council of Europe’s Commission for Democracy through Law (“Venice Commission”) concludes that the cumulative effect of proposed reforms to two laws and recently adopted amendments to a third law “puts at serious risk” the independence of “all parts” of the Polish judiciary.

The Venice Commission opinion concerns two drafts recently submitted by the Polish President to the Sejm (Polish Parliament), which propose to amend the Act on the National Council of the Judiciary and the Act on the Supreme Court, as well as recently already adopted amendments to the Act on Ordinary Courts.

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In another opinion adopted today, the Venice Commission urged Poland’s authorities to undo a merger between  the offices of the Minister of Justice and Public Prosecutor General.

The union is the most important aspect of the 2016 Act on the Public Prosecutor’s Office, say legal experts.

According to the Venice Commission:  “The merger under the 2016 act goes too far insofar as no applicable European standards anticipate a situation in which the Public Prosecutor General is not only subordinated to the Minister of Justice but that the Public Prosecutor General is indeed the Minister of Justice.”

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