Andrzej Duda, Poland’s president, signed a bill on Tuesday that would allow the country’s justice minister to hire and fire the heads of local courts, local media reported.
Duda signed the bill one day after he defied Poland’s de facto leader, conservative Law and Justice party head Jarosław Kaczyński, by pledging to veto two other controversial bills. All three pieces of legislation were part of a controversial judicial reform package that would have given the government greater control over the judiciary, including the Supreme Court. The planned legal changes met with large-scale demonstrations across Poland and raised concerns in Brussels that the government is moving to further undermine checks and balances.
The bill Duda did sign reorganizes Poland’s local judiciary. Apart from giving the justice minister the ability to select heads of local courts, the bill will also — in some cases — allow the heads of court to assign cases to judges of their choice.
“Poland absolutely needs judiciary reform and I support it. But Poland needs a wise reform which will ensure the good functioning of the justice system,” Duda said on Monday, adding that he plans to propose his own draft legislation for judicial reforms within two months.