MEDELOn November 19th, 2019, the European Court of Justice delivered a significant decision in a series of “judicial independence” verdicts, initiated with the case Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses v Tribunal de Contas (C- 64/16).

The judgment was delivered on three preliminary questions (C-585/18, C-624/18 and C-625/18) referred by the Labour Law and Social Security Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court and The Supreme Administrative Court.

MEDEL

MEDEL wishes to express its serious concern over the recent developments within the Bulgarian judicial system, in face of the sharp increase in inroads into the independence of the judiciary, through attacks against individual judges and through reform proposals aimed at limiting their freedom of association.

Freedom of speech, that must be ensured everywhere even with regard to criticism directed at judicial decisions, does not give cover to the public allegations addressed by political and institutional actors against the judges of the Sofia Court of Appeal, stating that they would have acted with goals not related to justice when releasing on parole an Australian citizen, and their repeated exposure in the media and in political rallies.  These actions risk instead to cause serious harm to the legitimacy of judicial institutions, by an unacceptable exploitation of the highly emotionalised public reaction to a criminal case.

MEDELMagistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés (MEDEL) wishes to express its serious concern over the recent Project of law on the reorganization of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Prosecutor’s Office, presented by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Moldova.

According to the draft, one of the aims of the intended law is to reduce the number of judges of the Moldavian Supreme Court on the basis of an evaluation made by a newly created “Evaluation Commission”, composed by members appointed mainly by the executive and legislative powers.

Such a Commission intended for the evaluation of judges, especially within the superior law court, and predominantly appointed by the Government, appears to be unapt to ensure an objective evaluation and to respect the guarantees of the statute of judges.

MEDELMagistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés (MEDEL) has been following the recent developments in the judiciary of the Republic of Serbia with much concern.

Frequent filings of criminal and disciplinary charges, as well as numerous media attacks on judges and public prosecutors, have marked the last few months. These judges and public prosecutors have been either speaking freely on the daily issues and challenges regarding the judiciary and the prosecution, or expressing a critical and constructive view on the proposed amendments to the Constitution.

MEDEL

On April 3rd, 2019, the European Commission decided to launch an infringement procedure regarding the new disciplinary regime for judges in Poland.

MEDEL welcomes this decision, stressing that the mechanism of art. 258. TFUE is the only one with the effective potential to reverse the destruction of the Rule of Law in Poland.

The first call from MEDEL to take this action was addressed to the First Vice‑President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, on February 21st, 2019. Today it has become clearly evident that the unprecedented actions that have been undermining judicial independence in Poland need urgent attention.

MEDEL

The situation of the Romanian Judiciary has recently witnessed another episode that reveals the worrying path towards the degradation of the Rule of Law in that country.

MEDEL sees with much concern the revision of the three basic laws of the Judiciary (the Statutes of Judges and Prosecutors, the organisation of Courts and of the Prosecution Service and the organisation of the Superior Council of Magistracy) – that came into force between July and October 2018 – and the proposed changes of the criminal and criminal procedure. As Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in the European Parliament on October 3rd, 2018, these changes put at serious risk the independence and effectiveness of the Judiciary, especially in the fight against corruption.

MEDELMEDEL has addressed on February 20th, 2019, to Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, the letter here below, about the disciplinar proceedings against Judges in Poland.

Your Excellency, MEDEL – Magistrats Européens Pour la Démocratie et les Libertés, (a European Non‑Governmental Organization that currently gathers 23 associations of Judges and Prosecutors coming from 16 different European Countries, representing more than 15.000 magistrates), has been following closely the ongoing attack against the independence of the Judiciary in Poland.

MEDEL statement on the rescue ship AquariusThe General Assembly of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) decided in its meeting of September 17th, 2018, to suspend the membership of the Polish Judiciary Council (KRS - Krajowa Rada Sądownictwa).

The ENCJ concluded that currently the KRS is not "independent of the executive and legislature" and therefore is not capable of ensuring "the final responsibility for the support of the judiciary in the independent delivery of justice".

Although deeply regretting that the situation had to reach this outcome, MEDEL wishes to express its full support to the decision of the ENCJ.

After changes of law implemented in December 2017, KRS became fully dependent of the executive and legislative powers. This happened despite the changes have received unequivocally negative opinions of national and European organisations of judges, prosecutors and lawyers.

MEDELFor more than two years, MEDEL has been observing the process of deterioration of the rule of law in Poland. During this time MEDEL has repeatedly called upon Polish authorities to stop this process, to restore the principle of separation of powers and to ensure the independence of the judiciary.

The Government of Poland as well as the President of Poland seem to ignore the appeals of the international judicial community and continue to implement its “reforms” of the judiciary, which in fact are only focused on subordinating judiciary to executive power.

MEDEL statement on the situation of the Judiciary in MontenegroThe current Constitutional and legal provisions of Montenegro related to the election of members of the Judicial Council seriously violate the principles of independence and impartiality of the Montenegrin judiciary, situation that breaches the principles of the Rule of law.

The Montenegrin judiciary is threatened by a blockade, due to the inability to secure the necessary two- thirds majority for the election of members of the Judicial Council among the prominent lawyers.

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