THE TIME OF TRIAL. How do changes in justice system affect Polish judges?
After almost four years of continuous changes in the justice system, the guarantees of judicial independence and the proper operation of the courts have been seriously compromised. Nearly 20 amendments to key pieces of justice legislation have extended the possibility of politically influencing the work of courts.
In 2018, daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita and IUSTITIA Judges’ Association published the results of two independent quantitative studies. More than half of the judges (64%) participating in the Rzeczpospolita’s survey said that the tense climate affected the way cases were conducted and the sentences assed. The vast majority of judges (92%)also admitted that inquiries taken against judges active in public debate may cause the so-called chilling effect in the judicial community. Furthermore, 30% of the judges surveyed by IUSTITIA admitted that they had heard of political pressure in their community; 15% of the judges pointed to their personal experience of being pressured. Subsequent reports, including those prepared by the Justice Defence Committee
KOS, Amnesty International and IUSTITIA, documented disciplinary proceedings initiated against judges active in the debate on the reform of justice.