The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), a body of the Council of Europe, has published a report in which it writes about the “deteriorating situation” of the Polish justice system. According to the group, Polish judges are more and more susceptible to political control. GRECO also pointed to insufficient efforts to prevent corruption at the highest political levels.
The Group of States against Corruption, a body of the Council of Europe, published on Monday a report on corruption prevention in relation to MPs, judges and prosecutors. This document is an update of the assessment of the reforms from 2016-2018, which – as GRECO then stated – significantly weakened the independence of the judiciary.
In a new report, GRECO said the situation “has worsened even further by the amendments to the Law on Common Courts, the Law on the Supreme Court and certain other laws introduced in December 2019” and subsequent changes to disciplinary proceedings against judges. According to the group, judges are increasingly vulnerable to political control.
GRECO called on the Polish authorities to follow its recommendations. They concern “the selection of the composition of the National Council of the Judiciary, the establishment of the Disciplinary Chamber and the Extraordinary Control Chamber, the involvement of the executive in the organization of the Supreme Court, the appointment and dismissal of court presidents and vice-presidents, and disciplinary proceedings against judges”.
The level of implementation of recommendations “has remained unchanged” for nine years
The report also examines the degree of implementation of GRECO’s October 2012 recommendations on Members. The group assessed that “the level of implementation of recommendations on ethical standards, conflicts of interest, lobbying rules and effective monitoring of the rules of conduct has remained unchanged” for almost nine years.
GRECO also encourages the prosecution to further develop its guidelines on the prevention of conflicts of interest and related issues, as well as to improve the ethical monitoring tools.
One of 21 recommendations “dealt with satisfactorily”
In a separate report on the prevention of corruption and the promotion of integrity of top executive officers, including ministers, GRECO concluded that only one of the 21 recommendations was “satisfactorily” addressed by the Polish authorities. The group acknowledged that it “welcomes the positive steps” taken by the police to improve methods of identifying corruption threats. GRECO stated, however, that Poland was not adequately addressing the problems related to the integrity of those holding the highest positions in the government.
The Council of Europe – what it is and what it does
The Council of Europe is an international governmental organization that brings together almost all European countries and a few non-continental countries. It was established on May 5, 1949. It currently has 47 members and its seat is Strasbourg. The organization mainly deals with the promotion and protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
The Council of Europe is not a body of the European Union.
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