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RULE OF
LAW

Unfortunately, today several governments across Europe are undermining judicial independence - leaving citizens, and especially minorities, and companies unable to challenge violations of their fundamental rights.

 

RECLAIM works to ensure  governments refrain from interfering with the judiciary and the impartiality of European judges. 

 

WHAT

WE DO

Monitor legal reforms threatening the principle of separations of power.

Provide advocacy support to local initiatives working to grow vibrant constituencies of active citizens for judicial independence.

Bring the stories of embattled judges to EU/Member States officials’ attention.

Develop recommendations for EU policymakers. 

Record attacks aimed at eroding public trust in judges or at having their immunity removed.

 

OUR FEATURED POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

Go to Court

The Commission should consistently bring before the European Court of Justice Member States deliberately trying to capture the judiciary.

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Create support. 

Member States should systematically intervene in support of the Commission in cases before the European Court of Justice addressing rule of law and human rights

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Monitor Trials  

Member States should systematically monitor politically motivated disciplinary proceedings against independent judges and be present in court hearings.

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Condition funds

The European Commission should enforce EU conditionality rules and cut off funding to governments involved in attempts to undue check-and-balances.

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Invest in resilience

 

The European Union should encourage and provide incentives to increase investment in the Member States' judiciaries

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Strengthen trust

Lawmakers and party officials should refrain from voicing disparaging comments against courts and judges.

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Update your CSR policy

 

Businesses should consider incorporating assaults on the judiciary into their investment and CSR strategies. 

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A POLISH JUDGE FACES PRISON FOR UPHOLDING THE RULE OF LAW

In November 2020, Poland’s Disciplinary Chamber waived Judge Tuleya’s immunity and allowed prosecutors to threaten him with imprisonment. The EU’s timid response resonates beyond Poland and reveals the vulnerability of judicial institutions in the face of far-right populism.    

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Since 2016, Judge Igor Tuleya, a vocal critic of the erosion of the Polish justice system, has been an important symbol in the struggle for judicial independence. Despite the government’s efforts to silence him, he continues his fight to protect the rule of law,  raising awareness of the importance of judicial independence in Poland.  

In 2016, the PiS prevented the opposition from taking part in a parliamentary vote. Following an investigation, Tuleya, the presiding judge of the case, ruled against the PiS. To intimidate him, the Prosecutor’s Office asked the Supreme Court (SC) Disciplinary Chamber to waive his immunity to prosecute him on trumped-up charges.  

In November 2020, the Disciplinary Chamber, a body whose independence the European Court of Justice denies, suspended Tuleya’s immunity. In so doing, it allowed the Prosecutors’ Office to threaten Tuleya with up to three years' imprisonment. Tuleya had done nothing but uphold the rule of law, by defending the opposition’s rights and allowing the media to report on the PiS’ political abuses.

In February 2021, an independent appeal Court sought to reinstate Tuleya as a judge, without interruption to his rights. It ruled that only a legally empowered, impartial and independent court can withdraw a judge’s immunity. According to its judgment, the SC Disciplinary Chamber lacked all of these characteristics.  

 

Despite the victory, Tuleya  was not reinstated and 1287 judges now run the risk of politically-motivated disciplinary proceedings for signing a letter to OSCE. This is happening with a very timid response coming from EU institutions. Instead of sending Poland more warnings the Commission should move to impose pecuniary sanctions.  

In RECLAIM, we believe EU Member States should take a clear position in defending judges, by having their ambassadors physically present during disciplinary proceedings and questionings. In so doing, they would send a clear message to authoritarian governments: there is no room for attacks against the independence of the judiciary in the EU. 

 
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