Speech by Prime Minister Beata Szydło

Photo: P. Tracz/Chancellery of the Prime Minister

Ladies and Gentlemen, we all want to live in a fair Poland, this is why the reform of the judiciary is needed. Today, it is functioning poorly. A decisive majority of Poles, irrespective of their beliefs, political views, or place of residence, would like the courts to function in a smooth and just way.

We all have in our closest circle someone who has been wronged by the judicial system. I became convinced of this at hundreds of meetings held during the election campaign. And I am being convinced of this every single day when desperate Poles ask me for an intervention since they are hopeless in confrontation with the judicial milieu.

We, as the Law and Justice party, are listening intently to the voice of ordinary Poles. And they are speaking clearly – Law is to serve everyone, also the most vulnerable ones, and it has not been like that in Poland so far.

Despite common expectations of a court system reform, no one has implemented it for the 28 years of the Third Polish Republic. We have undertaken this task since we are a responsible government. The Polish people expressed their trust in Law and Justice in elections, and we keep our promises. We will not stray from the beaten path of repairing the state. We will not bow to pressure, to promptings: not now. Because if not now, when? If we abuse Poles’ trust, there will be no second chance.

Today’s veto by the President has slowed down out work on the reform. What’s more, it has been treated as an incentive by those fighting to uphold the unfair system, the system of large and small abuses and oppression for a host of honest citizens. Meetings and discussions with lawyers, philosophers and politicians are valuable. But in order to reform the Polish courts well, we need to listen first of all to the voice of ordinary Poles. It should be pointed out that effective reforms need to be not only institutional in nature, but also – as we announced – need to have a wide personal dimension. Those who did evil or even agreed to evildoing will not change the Polish judicial system. The ordinary Polish people are aware of this and I, as a Prime Minister, declare that I will always stand on your side on the path towards an effective reform of the judiciary. 

We want dialogue and cooperation, but will not give up three demands without which there can be no deep reform of the judicial system:

  • firstly, those who have been so far responsible for the disastrous practices, who actively participated in them or who agreed to them need to leave;
  • secondly, changes are necessary so that judges were liable for breaking the law – today, they go practically unpunished;
  • and thirdly, people need to have control over the courts’ actions. We need to restore a true separation of powers.

Today the executive power, i.e. the government, is controlled by the democratically elected Parliament. The legislature, i.e. Sejm and Senat, are controlled by all of us as citizens voting in elections. And only the third power, the judiciary, is not controlled at all. We want the rule of law, and not the rule of lawyers.

These are our demands that we will not give up. We are open to discussion on the details but talks may not lead to the reform coming to a standstill, which we witnessed a number of times after 1989. Responsible politicians need to remember about this.

Law and Justice achieved a parliamentary majority in a democratic election. It formed a government whose work I have the honour to preside. Today’s decision of the President could have been incomprehensible to those who are waiting for a good change. This is yet another reason why we should be a unity today. We cannot yield to pressure from the streets and abroad. We have to abandon our personal and political ambitions, and focus on what the Polish people expect from us. We have a stable majority, we will not give in to pressure. We will implement our plan.

Ladies and Gentlemen. We share a common objective of a strong, modern and fair Poland. Therefore, as historical memory is built based on the truth, we should build unity based on equal justice under law.

When beginning the reform of the judiciary, we knew that this task was extremely hard, that the direction we chose required consistency, determination and hard work. The strong support that we received from the Polish people has been absolutely vital. I wish to thank you all for that. And I also want to ask you – do not lose faith. I assure you that we will keep our promise. We will repair Poland.

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