The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled Thursday that warrants issued by Polish judges must be enforced by other member nations despite concerns of systemic and generalized issues of judicial independence.
This ruling comes from two European arrest warrants issued against Polish nationals who were abroad in the Netherlands. The district court of the Netherlands had doubts about whether they should comply with the warrant since the Polish judiciary system was in the midst of reform. The district court of the Netherlands went through a two-step analysis where they found that they should not execute the warrants because the rights to an independent judiciary and trial cannot be guaranteed in Poland.
The ECJ disagreed with the Netherlands’ findings, stating that systemic and generalized issues of judicial independence are not enough on their own to justify their non-compliance with the warrants. They found that if this was sufficient it would create a far-reaching issue because it is important for membership in the EU that all member states have a free judiciary. Futhermore, the existence of these issues does not mean that there is evidence the particular person whom the warrant was issued against will suffer a breach of a fair trial.
Finally, they specified when to look at issues of judicial independence. For criminal warrants that are outstanding, they must look at the current issues plaguing the issuing court. For custodial issues, they must look at what issues plagued the court at the time the warrant was issued.
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