by José Igreja Matos, President of the European Association of Judges/Vice-President of the International Association of Judges
Populism and Judiciary
Judicial independence faces today, particularly in Europe, new threats emerging from populist political regimes.
Accepting the fundamental axiom that in a State based upon the Rule of Law, it is always up to the Courts to guarantee the effectiveness of human rights, and there is a strong operative connexion between the exercise of human rights – or the correspondent imposition of duties – and the mission conducted by the judicial systems.
This detected closeness explains the present decline of judicial independence in different regions, particularly within EU geographical space.
One the most interesting findings when analysing those countries deriving to populist and authoritarian policies is the immediate option, since the very early stages, for an vigorous attack on the independence of the judiciary propelled by surgical legislative reforms in the area of Justice. Recently in Poland, for instance, three different laws discussed in Parliament focused in nuclear foundations of judicial careers – Supreme Court, High Judicial Council and Presidents of First Instance Courts.
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