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Position statement on Supreme Court

In recent days, we have witnessed the consequences of the coming into force of yet another batch of provisions of the new Supreme Court Act. The Act lowers the retirement age of Supreme Court judges who may remain on bench exclusively upon receiving a discretionary (and utterly unreviewable) approval of the President of Poland.

Let us remind our readers that the constitutional norm of irremovability of judges cannot be changed by an arbitrary legislative decision to lower their retirement age. The judges who attained the age of 65 should be able to adjudicate cases as Supreme Court judges, irrespective of any approval given by politicians. It is not for the political authorities – let it be the President or the Minister of Justice – to decide if a judge should or should not remain on the bench. The above rule applies also to the President of the Supreme Court whose six-year term is established in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and as such cannot be shortened by an act of Parliament. The argument of the allegedly needed decommunization of the Supreme Court provides no justification for the lowering of the retirement age: such a process undertaken 30 years after the change of Poland’s political system is nothing less than an inadmissible form of collective punishment.

Irremovability of independent judges is a guarantee of the existence of independent courts. And independent courts are the guarantors of rights and freedoms of us all. The political authorities have social mandate to change laws, but they are not infallible. We urge the President of Poland to give a constitutional interpretation of provisions of the Supreme Court Act. Decisions, which the President will take based on the new Supreme Court Act, countersigned by the Prime Minister, may not lead to the arbitrary dismissal of Supreme Court judges because such an action would constitute a constitutional delict.

It is in time like this we can clearly see how much we need an independent Constitutional Tribunal adjudicating in a lawfully developed composition.

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