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Polish Senate rejects govt’s judicial reform bill allowing politicians to fire judges

Polish Senate rejects govt’s judicial reform bill allowing politicians to fire judges

The opposition-dominated Senate in Poland on Friday rejected a new law that would allow judges who criticize the government’s judicial reforms to be disciplined. Warsaw and the EU are at loggerheads over the reforms, and the opposition is trying to use its control of the Senate to highlight the dispute, Reuters said.

The 100-member Senate voted by 51 to 48 to reject the law. The lower house, controlled by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), still has the power to make the bill law, assuming that President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the PiS, signs it.

The PiS says the bill, which has been passed by the lower house, is necessary to avoid chaos in the legal system. The developments come as some judges have started questioning the legality of the appointment of others under new rules introduced by the PiS.

The EU, rights activists and lawyers say the bill is designed to stop criticism of the government’s wide-ranging reforms, which may increase government control over the judiciary.