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In Poland, judges meet citizens to defend the independence of justice

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On this Sunday morning in July, the sun is timid on the central square of Olesno. This small town of 10,000 inhabitants in southern Poland is slowly emerging from its torpor on this stopover day of the Konstytucja Tour (Constitution Tour). Robert Hojda, who has been crisscrossing Poland at the wheel of his brand new minibus since June, unfolds seats and flags while his right arm, Danuta Przywara, a former member of the Solidarity movement, stamps constitutions laid out on a table.

Onlookers are beginning to point the tip of their noses, perhaps attracted by this unusual feverishness 270 km from the capital. Initiated in June 2021 by Robert Hojda, an entrepreneur involved in civil society, the Tour de Konstytucja, a nod to the Tour de France, aims to promote the Polish constitution and the rights of citizens. In the four corners of Poland, in collaboration with organizers in each locality, residents are invited to debate with magistrates, writers or human rights defenders. In a country governed since 2015 by the national-conservatives of the PiS, where the rule of law has continued to be undermined, these meetings attract informed citizens, and those who are sometimes less so.

About thirty people are already gathered in a semi-circle around the Marian column dominating the “rynek” (market) of Olesno when 19-year-old co-organizer Kacper Piwowar declares the stage open. The public listens religiously to the preambles of the Polish Constitution and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU), broadcast by speakers. Ray on the side, opaque sunglasses and microphone in hand, Robert Hojda – an entrepreneur involved in civil society to the point of founding in 2019 the – comments: “Contrary to what some would have us believe, the EU is not our enemy. She’s not trying to take ownership of anything. »

“The EU is not our enemy”

This Warsaw, who has been demonstrating since 2015 against the abuse of power by the PiS and has created a foundation that serves as a platform for small pro-democracy movements, refers to the judgment of the Constitutional Court of October 2021, which had affirmed the primacy of Polish law on European law. “Politicians have divided us in every possible way, while we the citizens are the source of their power! », declares Robert Hojda before embarking on the debate of the day. This concerns article 30 of the Polish constitution devoted to dignity, source “freedoms and rights of man and of the citizen”, as stated in the basic text.

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