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KRS. The Venice Commission positively assessed the amendment to the act. Adam Bodnar thanks the committee

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The Venice Commission positively assesses the direction of changes in the amendment to the National Council of the Judiciary adopted by the Sejm. She submitted her comments and recommendations. “I would like to thank the Venice Commission for its cooperation and trust. This opinion will certainly contribute to the final text of the act,” wrote Adam Bodnar on X, who asked for an opinion to be issued “urgently.”

Commenting on the opinion of the Venice Commission, Minister of Justice Adam Bodnar wrote in a tweet: “I would like to thank the Venice Commission for its cooperation and trust. This opinion will certainly contribute to the final text of the act.” He added that the Polish government is committed to using the expertise of the Venice Commission.

The opinion of the Venice Commission (VC), as the European Commission for Democracy through Law is called, was prepared together with the Directorate-General for Human Rights and the Rule of Law of the Council of Europe. The request for an “urgent” opinion was submitted by the Minister of Justice, Adam Bodnar. The opinion is expected to be adopted during the plenary session in Venice in June.

Recommendations of the Venice Commission regarding the National Council of the Judiciary

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The Venice Commission and the Directorate General recommend reconsidering the criteria on the basis of which judges are qualified for the National Council of the Judiciary. The opinion noted that the election of 15 judges-members of the National Council of the Judiciary by judicial circles, as stipulated in the amendment, is “a way to ensure broad representation of judges” in the Council.

“The objective of the draft amendment to the Act on the National Council of the Judiciary, which is to respect and apply the principle of electing its members by judges, is not only legally justified, but also required by the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Venice Commission and the Directorate General for Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Council of Europe,” it was explained.

Moreover, the opinion emphasized that the draft amendment to the Act gives all judges the right to nominate candidates for the National Council of the Judiciary and to vote. The document also refers to the establishment of a Social Council at the National Council of the Judiciary, which will advise on matters relating to the examination and evaluation of candidates for judicial and assessor positions, as stipulated in the project.

Venice Commission on the National Council of the Judiciary: important and far-reaching new solutions

As noted, the main goal is to increase the influence of civil society on the National Council of the Judiciary, especially since – as indicated – the Polish Constitution does not adequately address this matter.

“Questions may arise regarding the constitutionality of the Social Council in the absence of a clear constitutional basis. Moreover, there is room for the question whether such a council actually ensures the legal influence of civil society or whether this influence will be facilitated by the reform of the composition of the National Council of the Judiciary itself,” the opinion wrote.

The Venice Commission noted in the document that “the discussion on the reform took place in a political climate of distrust and persistent social tensions.”

“Against this background, an appropriate and transparent procedure for adopting the new act is of particular importance. Therefore, it is commendable that the Ministry of Justice and then the Parliamentary Committee for Justice and Human Rights conducted public consultations during the preparation of this new act,” it was emphasized.

Reacting to these consultations, the Venice Commission and the Directorate-General for Human Rights and the Rule of Law said that this approach is “a significant improvement compared to previous practice, when the accelerated procedure was used by the Polish authorities to adopt important judicial reforms, which was criticized by the Venice Commission.

“While the new solutions proposed by the draft law are important and far-reaching, it is important to ensure their stability. It would be counterproductive to restore confidence in the judiciary if the statutory principles could be changed during the next change of government,” the opinion noted.

Main photo source: Leszek Szymański/PAP



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