Fourth day of protests in Polish cities against court overhaul

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 06:52 GMT, Jul 23, 2017 |

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered across Poland on Saturday (July 22), the fourth day of demonstrations and candle-lit vigils demanding that Polish President Andrzej Duda, veto the the bill overhauling the Supreme Court that its critics say will undermine judicial independence.

Amid mass protests, senators of the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party agreed in the early hours of Saturday to a bill that would remove all Supreme Court justices except those hand-picked by the justice minister.

The overhaul of the judiciary, coupled with the ruling party’s drive to expand its powers in other areas, has provoked a crisis in relations with the European Union and sparked one of the biggest political conflicts since Poland overthrew communism in 1989.

The European Union’s executive on Wednesday (July 19) gave Poland a week to shelve the judicial reforms that Brussels says would put courts under direct government control, or risk sanctions and the United States, Poland’s most important ally in NATO, called on Warsaw to make sure that any changes respect the constitution.