Poland’s top judge and prominent government critic prepares to step down

Poland's top judge and prominent government critic prepares to step down

Poland’s most senior judge and one of the strongest critics of the country’s controversial justice reforms has firmly criticised the government as her term in office comes to a close.

Malgorzata Gersdorf, who became the first woman to hold the position of first president of the Supreme Court on her election in 2014, leaves the office at the end of the month.

In an interview with German newspaper Die Welt, she said Poland’s right-wing government was not pursuing reforms but “the destabilisation of our legal system”.

Ms Gersdorf said that the COVID-19 crisis had provided “an opportunity” for the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party “to further dismantle the rule of law”.

She added: “Nobody gets as far as PiS with democratic means. It’s simply about power – Polish democracy is the price.”

In a letter reportedly circulated to her colleagues on the bench earlier this month, Ms Gersdorf appealed to her successor to “safeguard” the independence of the judiciary.

She said it was “up to judges, like Roman consuls, to ensure that the Polish Republic is not harmed”, Forsal.pl reports.

Ms Gersdorf said she had become “the target of both petty and brutal attacks” as a result of her criticisms of the government.

“The destruction of the rule of law could not be stopped,” she said, “but many people were able to understand the importance of the constitution and judges for defending their rights.”

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