Will Judge Igor Tuleya become martyr of transparency?

Who would have thought that it will be a judge that will be held accountable for potential irregularities in the preparation of Acts by the Sejm. No, not the Speaker of the Sejm. And not the governing majority either. Not even those that have been concealing information, for example, the Marshal’s Guard. Instead of waiting for a court judgment concerning the disclosure of the December 2016 video recordings from cameras in front of the Sejm building, which could have contained evidence that a crime had been committed, the Guard “overwrote” them with another recording.

Many of us remember this case. In December 2016, a serious crisis took place in the Sejm:

  • The Sejm Chancellery’s Press Office announced that journalists’ access to the Sejm’s work will be restricted.
  • Michał Szczerba, MP, during his speech, places a sheet with Free Media written on it on the lectern during his speech, for which Speaker Kuchciński excludes him from the session.
  • MPs for the opposition block the lectern in protest, demanding that the MP is restored in the session.
  • The Speaker fails to meet the demand and moves the session of the Parliament to the Column Hall where MPs vote on the Act to reduce the retirement and disability pensions paid to former officers of the security service (SB) of the communist Polish People’s Republic (commonly referred to as “ustawa dezubekizacyjna” – the SB-Reckoning Act) and the Budget Act by raising their hands and without the presence of journalists. 
  • Doubts remain whether during the session the quorum was attained because MPs for the opposition allege that they were not permitted to enter the Hall, and MPs from the ruling party allegedly signed the roll of attendance after the session.
  • The camera recording of the session does not cover the entire Column Hall. Therefore, it is difficult to verify the facts.

However, there were two other cameras in the hall, which belong to the Marshal’s Guard. It is those who are charged with irregularities that should wish to expose the truth and explain themselves. Unless….

There probably was some “unless…”. From the very beginning, key information has been missing or has been purposefully concealed. Recordings from the Marshal’s Guard’s cameras prove to be an unimportant technical recording, connected with security. Very unimportant, indeed… Of such little importance that when a judge in the administrative court finally mentions the recordings from December 2016 in front of the Sejm: “It is not important who is recording but what the content of the recording is”, it turns out that the recordings are overwritten after one month anyway, so the court can rule all it wants.

However, when Judge Igor Tuleya, who received the appeal against the public prosecutor’s office dismissing the investigation into the way the law is made on 16 December 2016, takes the liberty of explaining to the public opinion the motives behind the dismissal of that decision (journalists listened to the judgement and recorded it), the hunt begins. According to the public prosecutor’s office, the judge this way disclosed a secret of the investigation to “unauthorised” persons. Will he be imprisoned for his transparency?

Chilling effect

And will another judge risk prison and disclose a “secret of the investigation” in the public interest? A case concerning the disclosure of information from an investigation connected with a business case should be held soon. We wanted to learn the decisions of the court which did not agree to the arrest of former members of the management board of Zakłady Chemiczne Police. The arrest was demanded by the public prosecutor’s office after the notification submitted by the new company management board nominated by PiS against the old management board nominated by PO. The Szczecin public prosecutor’s office initiated an investigation concerning the abuse of power by judges responsible for appointing adjudicating panels for the hearing of motions and complaints submitted by the prosecutor’s office. The Presiding Judge refused because we demanded access to documents from unfinished pre-trial proceedings. However, in our opinion, the disclosure of these documents was necessary so that the public opinion could learn the essential facts concerning this case. If they are disclosed, judges may be held accountable, as Judge Tuleya today. Will they have the courage to make such judgments?


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