The National Board of thePolish Judges' Association IUSTITIA in order to draw public attention to the unredeemed actions of the legislative and executive authorities aimed at removing Judge Piotr Raczkowski from the judicial office hereby declares:
These actions are clearly contrary to the constitutional principle of non-removability of judges.
Mr Piotr Raczkowski is a judge of the Military Regional Court in Warsaw. As a military judge, he was also a high rank officer on active duty. Until 2018, he was vice-president of the National Council of Judiciary in its last term. He defended Judge Waldemar Żurek, who represented the position of the NCJ, against attacks from politicians and pro-government media.
For the last six years judge Raczkowski has been the victim of groundless harassment by representatives of political power.
When in 2017, due to his health condition, Mr. Raczkowski was unable to continue his active military service while being fit to serve as a judge, the National Council of the Judiciary requested the President of the Republic of Poland to appoint Mr. Judge as a judge of the Regional Court in Warsaw. After four years of waiting, President Andrzej Duda refused to appoint him to this position, without any justification.
Judgement Piotr Raczkowski did not return to the courtroom until March 2023 as a civilian judge adjudicating in a military court, thanks to the amended provisions of the Homeland Defence Act.
On the occasion of the amendment of the Civil Code's succession provisions, the ruling majority introduced an amendment to the Homeland Defense Act that prevents Mr. Raczkowski from continuing to serve as a judge by retiring him despite his failure to meet the conditions set out in Article 180 of the Polish Constitution. These provisions are aimed solely at Judge Piotr Raczkowski and constitute unprecedented harassment.
The described statutory change clearly contradicts the principle of irremovability of a judge enshrined in Article 180 of the Polish Constitution. A judge, before reaching retirement age, may be retired only if his or her health condition makes it impossible for him or her to exercise his or her office or in the event of a change in the organisation of courts or a change in the boundaries of court districts. (Article 180(5) of the Constitution).
Judge Piotr Raczkowski has not reached the age at which judges retire, his health condition makes it possible for him to perform judicial service, and the structure of military courts and the boundaries of court districts have not changed.
The action of politicians passing legislation blatantly contrary to the Constitution is a revenge against an independent judge, a member of the presidium of the last National Council of Judiciary, in place until 2018.
The IUSTITIA Polish Judges' Association once again declares its support towards any judge persecuted for defending the independence of judges and the independence of the judiciary.