The ENCJ suspends the membership of the new Polish Judiciary Council
The European Network of Judiciary Councils (ENCJ) decided to suspend the membership of the Polish National Council of the Judiciary (KRS).
The ENCJ unites the national institutions in the Member States of the European Union which are independent of the executive and legislature, and which are responsible for the support of the Judiciaries in the independent delivery of justice. The ENCJ is comprised of 24 judicial councils from 20 EU member-states. Polish KRS was one of the founding members of the ENCJ, established in 2004.
On Monday an Extraordinary General Assembly of the ENCJ was held in Bucharest, devoted to the case of Polish KRS. A motion to suspend the new KRS, chosen by politicians, was put forward by a member of the Dutch Judiciary Council, Kees Sterk, who is also the Chairman of the ENCJ. Each of the members took the floor on Monday. Poland was represented by the Chairman of the KRS, judge Leszek Mazur.
The members of the ENCJ decided to suspend the new Polish KRS in membership rights. The Chairman of the Polish Judiciary Council, judge Leszek Mazur told the Polish Press Agency that the motion to suspend the KRS was supported by 100 votes, with only 6 votes against it. There were also 9 abstentions.
"As a consequence, the KRS is from now stripped of voting rights and excluded from ENCJ operations. However, the ENCJ has decided to remain in contact with the KRS," the ENCJ wrote in a statement.
"The ENCJ will be monitoring the situation and awaiting the moment when KRS fulfils the ENCJ's requirements, thanks to which it would once more become an active member. For the time being, the ENCJ is ready to provide help and advice to the KRS, regarding its compability with European standards for judicial councils," reads the statement by the ENCJ.
In mid-August, the KRS was informed that on the 17th of September in Bucharest, during an Extraordinary General Assembly the ENCJ will make a decision regarding the Polish judiciary council's status within the organisation.
"The Board has proposed to the Members of the ENCJ to suspend the membership of the KRS as it no longer meets the requirements of ENCJ that it is independent of the Executive and Legislature so as to ensure the Independence of the Polish Judiciary. (...) Taking into account the replies of the KRS and after having studied all other relevant materials (i.e. the position of the Polish Judges Associations) the Board considers that the KRS no longer fulfils the requirements for Membership of the ENCJ," the ENCJ wrote on its webpage.
The KRS spokesperson reassured earlier on Monday that he was confident about the ENCJ's decision "as long as the members would follow the law". "However, if political issues would dominate, as it's happening in Europe, then I'm not so sure of our standpoint," Mitera underscored.
"In our view, everything is in line with rule of law. We do not feel that we're breaking it. I believe that individual members of the ENCJ know this very well, but what counts is the majority vote. I'm confident about the question of law, not so much about politics, however," he said.