Political News

Polish PM tries to counter critics on justice system changes

Posted 4:19 p.m. Friday
Updated 4:21 p.m. Friday

— Poland's prime minister met on Friday with people who say they feel wronged by the justice system as the government tries to counter criticism that its reorganization of the judiciary violates the rule of law.

The ruling conservative Law and Justice party says it needs to make deep changes in the justice system which it calls inefficient and not always fair, with cases sometimes dragging for years. It says Poles are expecting the change. But the new legislation has been met with condemnation from the European Union leaders, street protests and with a partial veto from President Andrzej Duda.

Aiming to stress the need for the reorganization, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro met with some 20 dissatisfied people and heard their stories. Szydlo later said many of them have lost almost everything as a result of "wrong decisions by the insensitive, inhuman justice system."

The government wants to focus on the people building their sense of security and justice "regardless of who he is, regardless of his education and place of residence."

But European Union leaders say the new legislation submits judges to politicians' control in violation of EU rules, and they warn of sanctions.

Duda has vetoed proposed changes to the Supreme Court and a top judicial body, saying they gave too much power to the justice minister, who is also the prosecutor general. He is to present his proposals this month.

However, Duda has approved new regulations for ordinary courts. Acting on them, Ziobro unexpectedly removed three deputy heads of Warsaw's main court this week, drawing criticism from judges' association.

Following her meeting, Szydlo said she was reassured the government plan was right and that "we will not back away from introducing the changes."

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