A German court has refused to extradite a Polish citizen wanted to face charges of fraud in Poland. The court issued a press release in the wake of its ruling which said that there were serious doubts about the independence of the judiciary and whether the right to a fair trial was guaranteed in Poland, following a controversial overhaul of the country’s judicial system.
Poland, since the Law and Justice Party came to power in 2015, has introduced a number of judicial reforms which have been criticised by the European Commission as threatening the rule of law and contrary to democratic principles. The reforms include the introduction of investigations and disciplinary proceedings in response to judicial rulings. On 14 February 2020, the Government’s ‘muzzle law’ came into force; the law prohibits judicial criticism of new appointees and introduces disciplinary measures for judges who speak out against Government reforms.
In a first for the German court, it revoked the Polish arrest warrant and requested further information from the Polish authorities as to the effect of the recent judicial reforms.