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Poland to hold final vote on politicians punishing judges

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's lawmakers are taking a final vote Thursday on a much-criticized law that allows politicians to fire judges who are critical of their decisions and curbs judicial independence.

Proposed by Poland's ruling right-wing party that is seeking more control over the judiciary, the law has been condemned by European and Polish legal experts, by Poland's opposition and by some judges. They say it violates European Union principles and would further undermine judicial independence.

The bill was rejected by the Senate last week, but the lower house is expected to finally approve it because it is controlled by the ruling Law and Justice party. The party says the law aims to prevent “anarchy” among judges, some of whom are critical of the party's policies.

It bans judges from criticizing new judicial appointments and from any politically-tainted public activity. The law is part of changes the ruling party has been making to the judiciary, arguing it needs to be made more efficient. But critics say the moves amount to putting judges under political control.

Poland's president is expected to sign it into law. The vote planned for Thursday evening comes as the Supreme Court is to assess whether some of its judges, who were appointed with the participation of the parliament, are enjoying full independence.

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