However, 1500 participants arrived there not only in order to express their unity in the defence of the basic values, such as: the independence of the judiciary, the right of the citizens to defend themselves and to obtain a just and honest trial in court, the constitutional independence of the Supreme Court, the primacy of the constitutional order and of the rule of law over the world of the politics created by parties, but they arrived there also in order to look for the ways of repairing the Polish judicial system, by holding out their hand to the rulers of Poland of the present day and to invite them to a dialogue.
What could be heard in the panel discussions, in the speeches of the judges, in the concepts of “Iustitia” presented there, in the concise discourse of the First President of the Supreme Court was, primarily, not only indignation, but, more than anything, the concern about the future. It is necessary to restore the position, significance and the independence of the Constitutional Tribunal – said Małgorzata Gersdorf. The functioning of the judicial system should be improved, with a view to better serving our citizens. It is important to extend legal help to the citizens and to execute well the functions of the plenipotentiaries. It is important that the reforms affecting the judiciary should be based on the dialogue of the legal environments with the citizens – many persons emphasized.
The leading motif was the profound conviction that the respect for the constitutional rights and for human dignity is an intransgressible boundary of any reforms. And that the life of an individual in the country governed by the rule of law has to be based on the respect for the decisions of the courts and on the principle that the politicians should not undermine the importance, authority and the credibility of the judiciary. There should exist a social possibility of participating in delivering judgments and in the procedure of selecting candidates to the National Council of the Judiciary (Polish: Krajowa Rada Sądownictwa). Judge Markiewicz presented a clear direction of the changes – to a judicial system which is truly oriented towards the civil rights and human rights. In the spirit of what the President of the European Court of Justice said. A bridge linking all the speeches representing that point of view was the strong position of Professor Adam Strzembosz, who said: “we must not return to a judicial system which in its spirit and in its letter is a system of an authoritarian country. As a nation and as a society we threw away that type of country to the junk room of history in 1989.”
I submitted to the Congress of Polish Lawyers a letter from the members of the European Parliament – representing various countries and four political groups: Christian Democrats, Liberals, Socialists and Greens. It is 2/3 of the Parliament. The letter warns us against choosing the wrong path – the path of undermining the principle of the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary. The letter supports the Polish legal environments in their struggle towards maintaining the foundations of justice and of the rule of law, because only such foundations guarantee democracy. In the aforementioned letter we wrote that, considering ourselves to be the upholders of the rights in the European Union through our mandates to the European Parliament, we wanted to safeguard that the values crucial for democracy, law and civil rights were observed in all the countries of the European Union.
The Congress was a solemn event, focused on values and, at the same time, on practical solutions.
One may only wonder why a delegated envoy of Minister Ziobro, Vice Minister Warchoł, so strongly opposed a war-like confrontation to that openness to dialogue and to the hand held out to him, thus turning his back on the group. As though today he wanted to bring to court the entire Polish judiciary and the entire work of the Polish lawyers, because of the sins of judges committed in various periods of the Polish history. He presented some slight openness to solutions regarding the selecting of the members of the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS). But first he attacked, lied, humiliated and destroyed. In accordance with the principle that strong negative propaganda, frightening people, creating a black picture of the Polish judiciary would help maintain the alleged social justification (measured with opinion polls) of the destruction of the Polish judiciary.
That is how the government of the Law and Justice (PiS) works. A black picture of middle schools – defending parents against bad middle schools – a “deform” of education. An image of self-governments – they steal, do nothing, do not listen to their citizens – there is a need for changes – and there are attempts to give a part of the competences of the self-governments to government institutions.
Because not the citizen – the citizen is only a figure in this game – but a super-strong, omnipotent state is a dream of the Law and Justice party. The essence of the democratic and pro-citizen judicial system is the protection of any citizen against others, also against the state. Therefore, the state cannot say that it is the state that wants to take the place of the judiciary for the good of the citizens – by liquidating the independence of the courts. It is a coup d’état on Montesquieu. It is not a democratic dream, it is an authoritarian dream.
So, we are facing the following choice: either Poland of the authoritarian strength or the Citizens’ Poland and democratic Poland.
During the Congress of Polish Lawyers a debate about law and justice took place. However, the debate was held not only against the Law and Justice party (PiS). It was held in the name of a new civil look at law and justice. And with the understanding that the key to a wise state, developing on the basis of the strength of its citizens, is the respect for the law. Because it is the law which is the conscience of the state, nothing more. So, one needs to have a conscience in two manners: to act according to one’s conscience and to act in order to support the conscience of the state – to safeguard law and order.
It may sound high-flown, but it should be said on the occasion: a new Civil Poland is maturing.
20 May 2017