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European Court of Human Rights has issued a precedent-setting interim measure protecting Polish judges.

European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] stops Schab and Radzik! Court banned repression of Warsaw appellate judges - article by Mariusz Jałoszewski OKO.press https://oko.press/etpcz-zatrzymuje-schaba-i-radzika-trybunal-zakazal-represji-wobec-sedzi-apelacyjnych-z-warszawy

ECHR has issued a precedent-setting interim measure protecting Polish judges. Based on it, three judges are to be reinstated in their old division.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg issued a precedent-setting interim measure on Tuesday, December 6, 2022. The measure covers three criminal law judges from the Warsaw Court of Appeal. They are Marzanna Piekarska-Drążek, Ewa Gregajtys and Ewa Leszczyńska-Furtak. 

In August 2022, they were abruptly transferred from the criminal division to the labor division of the Warsaw Court of Appeal. This was a punishment for implementing the rulings of the Court of Justice of the UE [CJEU] and the ECHR. The new president of the Warsaw Court of Appeal Piotr Schab and his deputy Przemyslaw Radzik are behind the decision to transfer the judges without their consent. Both are appointees of Minister Ziobro and are famous for prosecuting independent judges as disciplinary commissioners of common court judges'. 

Now the ECHR, in a interim measure, is withholding enforcement of the decision to transfer judges to the labor division and prohibiting their transfer without their consent. 

"The ECHR ruling means that the judges are again assigned to adjudicate in the second criminal division of the appellate court," - Lawyer Piotr Zemla, who is the judges’ attorney in Strasbourg, tells OKO.press.

He adds, "The Court's decision is a self-consistent basis for the judges to return to adjudicate in their home division. It is enough that the court president [Schab - ed.] will implement this ruling. If he doesn't execute it, it will be a crime under Article 231 of the Criminal Code [the provision speaks of failure to perform official duties and exceeding powers - ed.]. But I can't imagine that the president of the court will not respect the ECHR ruling.

The now-issued interim measure comes ahead of the three judges' complaint to the Strasbourg Court against Poland. That's because they couldn't appeal the decision concerning their transfer to an independent body. And the interim measure will remain in effect until the ECtHR issues its judgment.

The judges were not frightened by the forceful transfer. Judges Ewa Gregajtys, Ewa Leszczyńska-Furtak and Marzanna Piekarska-Drążek are judges of the Court of Appeal in Warsaw. For months they have been implementing the judgments of the ECHR and the CJEU, which challenged the legality of the Disciplinary Chamber, the neo National Council for the Judiciary [neo-KRS] and the appointments given to neo-judges. Therefore, among other things, in the rulings they challenged the status of neo-judges, including those from the Court of Appeal. They also refused to adjudicate together with neo-judges. And such neo-judges include Przemyslaw Radzik and Piotr Schab.

Repressions for applying EU law fell on them shortly after Schab and Radzik were appointed president and vice president of this important court, in the summer of 2022. After their promotion to the Court of Appeal, one of their first decisions in August 2022 was the punitive transfer of those three judges to the Labor Division. 

In addition, for applying EU law, Judges Gregajtys, Piekarska-Drążek are also facing disciplinary charges.

Therefore, the three judges began to fight to return to their home division. With the help of attorney Piotr Zemla, they sent requests for interim measures to the ECHR. And they have now received them. The interim measure precedes their complaint against Poland to the Court. Because they were deprived of the right to appeal before an independent and impartial court, established by law. That's why the judges want to file a complaint to Strasbourg. And they have already achieved the first precedent-setting success.

Attorney Zemla emphasizes:

"The transfer of a judge to another division is - in the practice of the Polish judiciary - a repressive measure used by the executive power against judges whose rulings do not fit in with the expectations of the authorities.