The report by the Lex Super Omnia Prosecutors’ Association details the negative consequences of the changes in the prosecutorial service implemented by the Law and Justice government in Poland. It also reveals a number of pathological situations related mainly to personnel policy as the foundation of the so-called prosecutorial reform.
The Lex Super Omnia Prosecutors’ Association (LSO) was born out of an initiative to establish an independent association of prosecutors. Its activities include monitoring the current situation in the prosecutorial service and the state of the rule of law, publishing analyses and reports. After more than a year from the publishing of the organisation’s first report about changes in the prosecutorial service, LSO has presented another report titled “Kings of Life in the Prosecutor’s Office of Good Change”.
The report presents data on the implementation of statutory tasks and reveals a number of disturbing phenomena as well as conformist attitudes of some prosecutors that should be criticized.
The data and findings have been obtained through access to public information and from websites of various institutions, including the National Public Prosecutor’s Office and the media.
As explained in the report, the main goal of the changes in the prosecutorial service was to replace existing prosecutors in order to employ the office in political battles rather than to improve its operation or the speed of proceedings. This is confirmed by systematically declining statistical results, visible mainly in the increasing number of proceedings of excessive lengths as well as increase in the duration and number of pre-trial detentions.
The new law resulted in the establishment of a group of faithful and loyal prosecutors focused around the current leadership of the prosecutorial service operating within a system based on favoritism. This group has begun gradually replacing independent, experienced and competent prosecutors in top positions
The report presents consolidating mechanisms known as “institutional corruption” and its beneficiaries. It sheds light on the abuse of a special promotion mode under which promotions are received by people without any particular accomplishments.
The document details the largest beneficiaries of the ruling party’s policies, people who have gained the most in the past three years, in terms of both promotion and finances. In addition to increased salaries following rapid promotions, there is also the issue of obtaining other benefits including financial bonuses, housing allowances, and remuneration for participation in various types of bodies.
The key aspect is that they concern a group of people particularly closely related to the current leadership of the prosecutorial service, who enjoy the trust of Prosecutor General and Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro.
Another important issue is the abuse of horizontal delegations to other offices at the same or lower level, as well as transfers requiring a change in the place of residence – a hidden disciplinary punishment used against individuals who speak out against changes being introduced by the ruling party.
The report also draws attention to the fact that the public prosecutor’s office has public funds and is obliged to spend them economically. Meanwhile, very serious doubts arise not only concerning the purchase of a new central office, whose price is shrouded in secrecy, but above all the spending of funds to adapt it to the standards of a modern office.
There are also serious doubts about expenses related to absorbed EU funds. The programs presented in the document seem to be less than rational, and it can be concluded that in certain cases they constitute another form of obtaining additional remuneration by employees of the public prosecutor’s office.
This collection of abuses and improprieties deserves attention and demands changes in the future. The conclusions presented in the report indicate the poor condition of the prosecutorial service in Poland as well as threats to the rule of law and the independence of members of the justice system.
Written by Barbara Sip, ia former intern at the Civil Development Forum (FOR)