Observations made by the UN Rapporteur on his visit to Poland
The independence of justice and institutional checks and balances are under threat in Poland. While the reform and modernization of judicial institutions is a legitimate objective, these processes should be undertaken with the goal of strengthening judicial independence and the rule of law as a whole.
The implementation of the proposed judicial reform has been accompanied by a large-scale propaganda attack against the judiciary, who are depicted by the ruling majority as a “caste”, a “State within the State”, an entirely self-governing corporation which aims solely at defending its interests and is not accountable to the society. Attacks on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary appear to be common on certain media, which at times have portrayed the judiciary as inefficient and corrupt, and made instrumental use of a few and isolated cases in which judges had been involved in illicit activities to demonize the judiciary as a whole.<
The Special Rapporteur is particularly concerned at the “Fair Courts” campaign launched by the Polish National Foundation, established by the current parliament under the auspices of the ruling party and funded by 17 State-owned corporations with the official aim of promoting large-scale reform of the judiciary. The campaign, which sparked controversy due to the lack of transparency about its sponsor and budget, consists of billboards, advertisements on television and social media and a dedicated portal. It provides a distorted image of the judiciary, depicting judges as “the enemy” of Polish people and an evil in Polish society.