Dutch court: Polish judiciary no longer independent
Court of Justice of the EU asked if the extradition of Polish suspects under the European Arrest Warrant must be halted.
Polish courts are no longer independent from its government and parliament, a Dutch court said Friday.
Ruling over an extradition case, the court asked the Court of Justice of the EU whether this means that the extradition of Polish suspects under the European Arrest Warrant must be halted.
“Since 2017, the independence of Polish courts and thus the right to a fair trial have come under increasing pressure,” the Amsterdam court said in a statement, adding “all these developments taken together affect the independence of Polish courts to such an extent that, according to the [International Legal Aid Office] IRK, they can no longer be independent vis-à-vis the Polish government and parliament.”
The Amsterdam court’s decision adds to growing criticism of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s sweeping reforms of the judicial system.
The changes have been strongly criticized by the European Commission and pushed it to start infringement procedures against Warsaw, and trigger an unprecedented move, known as Article 7, that could deprive the country of its voting rights in the European Council.
Due to “potentially far-reaching consequences of this conclusion,” the Amsterdam court will ask the CJEU whether its ruling means it should refuse to extradite an accused person to an EU country “when the courts of that Member State are no longer able to function independently.”
The statement said the CJEU will look at this kind of case for the first time. But in 2018, in a similar extradition case, the CJEU said Warsaw’s battle with Brussels over the rule of law is a “relevant” factor to consider while deciding on extradition cases.
Several European courts have doubts about their Polish counterparts’ legitimacy to conduct independent trials: In March 2020, a German court refused to extradite a Polish suspect due to “profound doubts about the future independence of the Polish judiciary.” Similar doubts were raised by a Spanish court.