The Association of Judges in Ireland (AJI) has condemned the personalised attacks in the conservative Polish media on a High Court judge, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, for suspending the extradition of a Polish man.
The AJI issued a statement today in which they said it “wishes to deprecate in the strongest terms the personalised attacks and invective directed at our member, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, reportedly emanating from some sections of the Polish media.
“Any interested person or party is entitled to criticise a judgment or ruling of a court, and even to do so in robust terms,” the statement said.
“However, a judge is a public office holder, and if a party wishes to criticise her for the manner in which she has performed her public duty, the criticism should be confined to that and directed at the court’s decision and not at the judge personally.
“The irrelevant references to Ms Justice Donnelly’s personal and private life are utterly unacceptable and we condemn them unreservedly.”
AJI condemned the attacks saying that it is “not to be taken as commenting in any way, or as expressing any views whatsoever, concerning the case at issue (which is ongoing) or the ruling in controversy, as it would be wholly inappropriate for us to do so”.
This statement is a response to reports made by conservative newspaper Dziennik Narowowy and website wpolityce.pl that there was a link between her decision and her sexual orientation.
The newspaper ran a headline referring to an “Irish lesbian judge” suspending the extradition “because she is concerned about the rule of law in our country”.
The report also referred to Ms Justice Donnelly as the “first openly homosexual person working at the High Court” and also noted she had worked for the Irish Council and Civil Liberties (ICCL).
Another website said it “sincerely hopes that … the majority of Polish criminals will flee to Ireland because the courts are so kind to the degenerates”.
Poland’s mainstream independent media has been more positive.
Ms Ewa Siedlacka, a commentator at weekly magazine Polityka, described the Irish decision as “a huge shame but also a morale boost for those who are attached to the standards of the rule of law, to the independence of the courts and the independence of the judges”.
In her ruling, the judge requested a ruling from the European courts on the effects of recent legislation changes in Poland.
This is in relation to the opposed extradition of a Polish drug trafficker as the integrity and effectiveness of Poland’s constitutional tribunal courts have been greatly interfered with and that the rule of law in Poland has been “systematically damaged”.
Referring to a new regime which reduced the retirement age for female judges from 67 to 60 and for male judges from 67 to 65, Ms Justice Donnelly said that “by legislating for gender discrimination amongst the judiciary,” Poland had shown a significant disregard for what is recognised in the Treaty of the European Union. It simply emphasises “that Poland appears no longer to accept that there are common European values which must be respected”.
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