Judges of the world unite! European judges join march in defence of Polish judiciary
Judges from Ireland and most other European countries joined their Polish counterparts at a protest in Warsaw against the erosion of judicial independence in the country.
Supreme Court judge Mr Justice John MacMenamin, wearing an Ireland national football team scarf, represented the Association of Judges of Ireland (AJI) at the “silent march”, The Irish Times reports.
The march started outside Poland’s Supreme Court, which recently found itself at the centre of a major political conflict after the country’s right-wing government effectively forced 27 of 72 sitting judges to retire by reducing the mandatory retirement age.
The judges were instated after the European Commission brought the matter to the European Court of Justice, which ruled last June that the move was “not justified by a legitimate objective and undermines the principle of the irremovability of judges, that principle being essential to their independence”.
However, the incumbent Law and Justice (PiS) party won a second consecutive parliamentary majority in last year’s general election and new conflicts are already brewing over its legislative plans to constrain judicial criticism of the government and ban referrals to the European Court of Justice.
The march, including Polish judges alongside colleagues from 20 European countries, silently proceeded from the top court to the Polish parliament building while by-standers cheered them on, according to The Observer.
Judge Monika Frackowia, a district judge in Poznań and co-organiser of the march, said: “The support is extremely important to us. We are European judges, we are part of Europe, and this is confirmation of that.”