Poland passes contested reforms of National Judicial Council (KRS)
March 8, 2017
Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro
The Polish government will reform the National Judiciary Council (KRS), dividing it into two chambers and terminating the terms of its current members, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said at a press conference of the bill adopted on Tuesday by the government.
A bill now under consideration would clear out all members immediately and set up a new council under more direct control of Parliament.
Planned among others is transferring the election of council members to the Sejm lower house.
At present members of the KRS (except the Justice Minister, and heads of the supreme court and central administrative court) are selected by an assembly of judges.
Changing the rules of appointing the KRS members will politicize the KRS, putting a threat to courts and judges' independence and to citizen's right to court, according to judges.
KRS sees the planned changes as violating the constitution, KRS press officer Waldemar Zurek had said earlier.
“The idea is unconstitutional as it infringes on the principle of checks and balances and the principle of judges' independence”, Zurek said.
Also the Supreme Court criticized the changes, calling it an attempt to circumvent the constitution.
KRS functioning has been criticized by many district court judges and accused of oligarchy but the scope of KRS reform proposed by the Justice Ministry goes beyond the initial proposals which tried to alleviate the situation, Rzeczpospolita daily wrote.