Advocacy: Open letters

Poland: ICJ sitting and former judges call for immediate reinstatement of Supreme Court Justices

Twenty-two senior judges from across the globe wrote today to Polish President Andrzej Duda to condemn the recent attacks on the independence of the judiciary.

The judges, all Commissioners or Honorary Members of the International Commission of Jurists, criticized the forced resignation of 27 of 72 judges of Poland’s Supreme Court as a severe blow to the independence of the Polish judiciary in violation of international standards.

The letter was organized by the ICJ and its Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers in consultation with jurists from 17 countries.

“The Polish government’s assault on the country’s judiciary is a major blow to the rule of law in Poland,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ Secretary General.

He added:

“The situation in Poland is of concern to judges in the country, as well as in the European Union and around the world.”

“The ICJ and jurists everywhere will speak out against this surge of attacks on the judiciary that is increasingly a pattern in many countries, including several that until recently were at least rhetorically champions of the rule of law.”

“This letter shows that the commitment to the rule of law and judicial independence is not limited to just one part of the world or one legal system, but rather reflects the views of the global community of jurists.”

In their letter, the ICJ senior judges “condemn the recent forced retirement of 27 out of 72 Polish Supreme Court justices, including its President Małgorzata Gersdorf (photo), and urge President Duda to act immediately to restore the independence of the judiciary by reinstating them in office.”

They express grave concern “that the effective dismissal of one third of the Supreme Court, coupled with the broad discretion given to the President’s office to make exceptions, has taken place in contravention of international human rights law and standards, including the right to a fair hearing, and is contrary to basic principles of the rule of law.”

Finally, the “undersigned jurists urge the President of the Republic of Poland to act immediately to restore the independence of the judiciary by reinstating the Supreme Court justices forced into retirement, follow the recommendations of the European Commission on judicial reform, and take action to repeal the law on the Supreme Court that strikes at the very core of judicial independence.”

The signatories

  • Justice Adolfo Azcuna, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
  • Justice Solomy Balungi Bossa, Ugandan Judge on the International Criminal Court
  • Justice Ian Binnie, retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
  • Justice Azhar Cachalia, Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa
  • Dame Silvia Cartwright, former Judge of the High Court in New Zealand and of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
  • Justice Moses Chinhengo, Judge of the High Court of Botswana
  • Justice Martine Comte, former President of the Orleans Court of Appeal, France
  • Justice Radmila Dracigevic-Dicic, Acting President of the Supreme Court of Appeals, Judge of the Supreme Court of Serbia
  • Justice Elizabeth Evatt, former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia
  • Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
  • Justice Paul J. G. Kapteyn, former Judge of the European Court of Justice
  • Justice Michael Kirby, former Justice of the High Court of Australia and former President of the International Commission of Jurists
  • Justice Kalthoum Kennou, Judge of the Tunisian Cassation Court
  • Justice Ketil Lund, former Justice of the Norwegian Supreme Court
  • Justice Qinisile Mabuza, Judge of the High Court of Swaziland
  • Justice Egbert Myjer, former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights
  • Justice Michèle Rivet, former President of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal
  • Justice Kalyan Shrestha, former Chief Justice of the Nepalese Supreme Court
  • Justice Philippe Texier, Judge of the French Court of Cassation
  • Justice Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza, Justice of the Supreme Court of Uganda
  • Justice Stefan Trechsel, former ad litem Judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
  • Dr Rodrigo Uprimny Yepes, former Assistant Justice of the Constitutional Court of Colombia

Poland-Reinstate forcibly retired judges-Advocacy-Open letters-2018-ENG (full text of letter in PDF)


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July 11, 2018