Poland: Thousands protest against government intimidation in judiciary

Thousands of people took to the streets in cities and towns across Poland to show solidarity with judges who said they were facing an increasing intimidation.

They demanded the judge who was suspended for questioning the appointment of another judge by Poland’s president be reinstated.

The governing Law and Justice Party has implemented widespread changes to the country’s judiciary.

The European Commission has already criticised the changes.

However the government claims the changes are needed to tackle corruption and overhaul its judicial system, which is says is still haunted by the communist era.

It also said that politicians take part in the selection of judges not just in Poland but in other EU countries.

Protests were held in over 100 locations.

Demonstrators carried EU flags and held signs that read “Solidarity with Judges”.

Judge Pawel Juszczyszyn was suspended from his post last week. He questioned the nomination of a judge because he had been appointed by the newly politicised National Council of the Judiciary, the authority that nominates judges in Poland.

Juszczyszyn appeared at the protest in Warsaw and told the crowd: “I call on my fellow judges: don’t let yourselves be intimidated, do be independent and brave.”

Judges’ groups say the Law and Justice Party is unfairly disciplining judges that oppose changes to the judiciary.

The European Union has accused the government of threatening to undermine principals including the rule of law and judicial independence.