Poland’s president signs controversial law despite protests (The Guardian)

Photograph: Łukasz Katlewa via Creative Commons

Poland’s president has signed into law one of three contested bills that organises the judiciary in a way that critics say limits their independence.

The move came after senior members of the ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) reacted furiously to Andrzej Duda’s decision to veto two out of three controversial bills that critics argue would have given the government control over the country’s judicial system, portraying him as bowing to the will of hostile foreign powers.

His declaration followed days of demonstrations across the country, in which hundreds of thousands of Poles took to the streets in the capital, Warsaw, as well as other towns and cities, and held vigils in front of courthouses.

Under banners emblazoned with slogans such as “Free courts” and “Freedom, equality, democracy”, demonstrators pleaded with Duda – himself a lawyer – to reject all three laws, claiming they marked a shift towards authoritarian rule.

The proposals had set Poland on a collision course with the European commission, which had threatened to stop Poland’s voting rights if it introduced them. Donald Tusk, the European council president and a former Polish prime minister, had warned of a “black scenario that could ultimately lead to the marginalisation of Poland in Europe”.

My report for the Guardian can be found here.

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