Head of Lithuanian courts sees events in Poland as threat to democracy

Anti Government protests in Warsaw

Rimvydas Norkus, chairman of Lithuania's Supreme Court and the Lithuanian Judicial Council, says that the judicial reform in Poland constitutes a threat to democracy.

"The developments in Poland, in the words of the chairman of the Judicial Council, poses a major threat to independence of courts as it violates the fundamental principal of separation of powers," reads a press release published by the National Courts Administration.

In Norkus' words, ensuring independence of courts is the backbone of a democratic state.

"The democratic system is based on the fact that the law is above everything, it can only function in a due manner when the independence of judges is protected," said Norkus.

The European Union (EU) on Wednesday warned the Polish government to discard the controversial judicial system reforms, pledging to take sanctions, if the remarks are ignored.

A law under discussion in Poland stipulates that members of the National Judicial Council (KRS), which should ensure independence of courts, will from now be elected by the parliament currently controlled by the ruling Law and Justice party.

Another bill authorizes the justice minister to appoint chairmen of Poland's general courts.

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