1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Poland gives green light to muzzle judges

January 23, 2020

The lower house, the Sejm, has approved a bill that analysts fear could be used to stifle judges critical of government legal reforms. The new legislation has been heavily criticized by the European Union, among others.

Polish judge's outfit
Image: imago images/ZUMA Press/P. Twardysko

Poland's parliament approved a controversial draft law on Thursday aimed at punishing judges who question the government's judicial reforms.

Now that the legislation has passed in the lower house of the Polish parliament, it is up to President Andrzej Duda. He is expected to sign the bill into law.

Read more: Guilt without atonement: When Nazi Germany occupied Lodz

The legislation proposed by the country's right-wing government — which Supreme Court president Malgorzata Gersdorf has denounced as a "muzzle law" — has been heavily criticized by the European Union, the United Nations, Polish legal experts, and opposition lawmakers. Brussels says it violates EU principles and the democratic separation of powers.

However, the ruling party has said the law is required to put an end to "anarchy" among judges, some of whom have been critical of the government's policies.

The decree would also curb the judiciary from getting involved in any public activities that could be viewed as political, particularly those who have, or wish to have, connections with associations linked to the Polish pre-1989 communist era.

The law also prohibits judges from being critical of new judicial appointments or powers of state authorities.

jsi/rc (AFP, AP)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.