European legal experts eye Poland's new law limiting judges

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Law experts held talks in Poland on Thursday on a controversial draft law that would give politicians the power to fire or fine judges in defiance of Europe's principle of judicial independence.

Proposed by Poland's right-wing government, the law was adopted by the lawmakers last month but still needs approval from the Senate, where the opposition has a slim majority.

Three members of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe were meeting with Poland's Senate speaker, Tomasz Grodzki, who is critical of the law and has invited the commission to give their opinion of it. Labeled a “muzzle law” by opponents, it allows judges who express political views to be punished.

Grodzki said his meeting was filled with good dialogue and detailed questions.

Ruling party senators, who also met with the experts, argued that the draft law is a continuation of ongoing changes to Poland's justice system that aim to prevent “anarchy.”

Some judges have opposed steps the ruling party has been taking since winning power in 2015.

The commission's opinion is expected next week, just before the Senate takes on the law. Grodzki has suggested the Senate could reject the bill or send it back to the lower hose for improvement.

The European Union has urged Polish authorities to suspend the bill.

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