CARDBOARD PROSECUTION IN A CARDBOARD STATE
The Polish state has no prosecution services. Not in the formal sense, since the institution of the name obviously exists in our country and – judging by the highest number of prosecutors employed anywhere in the European Union – it should be in perfect condition. However, we all know that the name of a senator given to a horse by the Roman emperor Caligula did not give the horse the ability to speak at the honourable forum or perform any duties the title implied. And it is just the way in which the duties or tasks, to define them broader, are performed which decides whether a specific institution in a democratic state of law can be called Prosecution Services spelt with the capital ‘P’, i.e. an independent institution safeguarding the rule of law, civic rights and freedoms, performing the function of the public prosecutor in criminal proceedings. Otherwise, what we are dealing with is an empty shell, a peculiar caricature of prosecution services which merely uses the same name.
7 years after the ruling political party took over the government, prosecution services have become totally politicised and reduced to the role of the ‘armed wing’ of the rulers, whereas the prosecutors play the function of minions meant to blindly follow orders from their superiors in matters falling within their political interests. All other matters concerning rank and file citizens, or the prosecutors’ working conditions, or the costs of operating the institution have ceased to interest anyone.
The Lex Super Omnia Association of Prosecutors has once again reviewed the operations and the functioning of the prosecution services in Poland, and the conclusions it has drawn are presented in this report. Unlike in the previous publications which contained a number of statistical and personal analyses, in this study we have focused on presenting the readers with the way in which prosecution services have been turned into a ‘cardboard’ and politically subordinate institution, one of the major, if not the most vital component of the politicised judicial system the rulers have tried to build in our country since 2015.
The system is based on a simple mechanism which comes down to protecting prominent party officials or those of the ruling coalition from potential consequences of their lawless actions, alternatively to initiating preparatory proceedings which drag on and on, with frequent movements between the prosecution units and referring prosecutors, bringing no effect in the form of substantive decisions. In the proceedings, the political goal has grown to dominate the regulations of the law or body of judgments, and the facts and their assessment under the criminal law are aligned with individual, political interests. On the other hand, we note effectivity of the prosecution services in their actions with respect to common citizens who participate in various forms of protests in defence of the rule of law, and human rights and freedoms.
Application of the principle of discriminative legalism, which translates to unequal treatment of the citizens before the law and protection of those in rule from liability, has nothing to do with an honest justice system.
We would like to bring the current state of prosecution services in Poland closer to the readers, where the condition could be diplomatically described as ‘highly disturbing’, and most of all illustrate the above-described mechanisms with examples, show how it is made use of by the prosecution leaders and their political patrons in individual, publicly known cases.
The purpose of this report is not limited to criticising the current condition of prosecution services in Poland. While picturing and stigmatising pathological situations of the institution’s actions or omissions, which after all can affect any citizen who finds himself/herself in dispute or conflict with the authorities, we want to win you over for the idea of prosecution services we present, the services independent of politics, transparent, effective, efficient, and built on strong self-government. We mean the institution which, as André Potocki, former judge of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, rightly said: should be ‘the prime guardian of human rights’1 and the guarantor of judicial independence.2 This is the prosecution services we must build in order to make sure that all of us – the citizens of the Republic of Poland – are protected in terms of our rights and freedoms, and that our right to honest, swift, and fair trial is respected and followed. It is the only way in which we will be able to remain in the family of democratic European states where judicial institutions function correctly to the benefit of the citizens, irrespective of the changes at the governmental level resulting from the election processes.
The Board, Lex Super Omnia Association of Prosecutors