Protests underway in Poland over controversial Court Law

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Thousands of people rallied in Warsaw Sunday to oppose the Polish government's controversial new court reforms which opponents see as a threat to judicial independence.

Paweł Kukiz, head of the anti-establishment parliamentary Kukiz '15 grouping, met President Andrzej Duda on Monday to discuss sweeping changes to the judiciary planned by Poland's ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.

The PiS has already run afoul of the European Commission and critics at home for implementing reforms of the Constitutional Court, whose main role is to check that laws are compliant with the constitution.

"Interventions in judicial independence endanger the principles of the rules of law and separation of powers", said German federal justice minister Heiko Maas to the Frankfurter Rundschau daily.

Chanting "we will defend democracy" and waving European Union and Polish flags, around 4,500 protesters attended demonstrations in the Polish capital, according to police.

The police estimated that somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 people protested there, but the Warsaw city hall said the number was above 10,000. One of the high court's tasks is to call the outcome of elections.

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A government-backed bill would see the Supreme Court's existing judges retired and reinstatement only possible on the justice minister's approval.

Previous demonstrations have taken place to protest against PiS control of public broadcaster TVP and efforts to limit media access to the Sejm.

The parliament passed one of the bills last week. Judicial bodies can make suggestions but the speaker of parliament has no obligation to select them.

We will remind, the Polish Senate voted for a controversial bill, according to which the country's Supreme court will submit to the Ministry of justice.

"We are living through the build-up of a dictatorship and anyone who thinks this doesn't concern them is wrong, as history shows", said Krzysztof Lozinski of the opposition group KOD.

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