Council of Europe criticizes Poland over judicial vote

PiS chief Jarosław Kaczyński

The main extra-parliamentary opposition movement, the Committee for the Defense of Democracy (KOD), led the protests under the banner of "This is NOT the end!"

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland's most powerful politician and leader of the Law and Justice party, contends that the courts are rooted in the communist era and are working to protect those who served the previous system.

Protesters waved European Union and Polish flags and shouted "we will defend democracy" at an afternoon demonstration in front of the parliament, which this week passed legislation that critics say gives the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party power over the courts.

"This whole set of (judicial) bills is a scandal", said Agnieszka Janczarska, a 39-year-old lawyer in Warsaw who attended both demonstrations.

The reforms, approved on July 14, give lawmakers more say in the appointment of judges, a violation of the constitution's separation of powers, according to opposition deputies.

(Vatican Radio) Protests are planned after Poland's Parliament rushed through a controversial law that will enable the government to appoint judges without consultation with judicial circles.

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A Polish opposition party said Saturday it had urged leaders of global organizations to send observers to parliament to oversee voting on a law that would force the entire Supreme Court into retirement and impose ministerial control over the selection of judges. Current judges of the court could be retired under a PiS-backed bill.

But as the governing party and its have a comfortable majority, the law was soon passed by parliament in the middle of the night.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the heads of several European tribunals and human rights watchdogs, the Nowoczesna (Modern) party said passing of the law would mean that "Poland will cease not only to be a liberal democracy but a democracy at all".

Crowds gathered outside parliament in Warsaw on Sunday to protest at government plans for sweeping changes to Poland's judicial system.

PiS supporters argue that the 1989 agreement that led to a gradual - and peaceful - end to communism in Poland didn't go far enough and in effect shielded ex-communists from prosecution after 1989.

About live reported the correspondent of Channel 24 from Warsaw.

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