Mar 24, 2009

Don't get arrested in Poland

ER hasn't been giving much love to Poland as of late.  No surprise, considering the fact that Poland is living "happily ever after" in NATO and the EU, complaining periodically about being treated as second class citizens in the EU and second class allies in the US.  And since the Kaczynski brothers faded from the limelight, there's just not that much to say.  So Poland has it all - democracy, a fairly stable party structure, free media, market economy, rule of law. 

Well, you can scratch that last one.  A new study shows that only 37 percent of Poles rate their justice system positively.  

  • Is the outcome of court cases just? 70.9 % say no
  • How about the justice officials?  Are they competent?  69.3 % doubt it
  • Independent judges? 65 % not so much
  • Effective system? 63 % say definitely not
  • Is it corrupt? 55 % say without a doubt
  • Bureaucratic? 33 % say hopelessly so

ER Warsaw correspondent's relatives in the law field confirm this picture.  Their anecdotes reveal that when a suspect is arrested, he is almost never released with bail, regardless of the crime.  Due to the ineffectiveness of the courts, you're likely to stay in jail without trial for up to 3 years.  At that point when you're life is ruined, you might have a trial, but it would be too expensive for judges to admit having wrongly imprisoned you.  And don't get sick or break a limb in jail either.  The most humane thing to do then is to take you out back and end it there.

The plus side of this story is that the study actually was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and supported with EU funds.  The Ministry was pretty shocked to see the results, but they're available on the website for all to see.  But downloading polling data on a government website probably isn't exactly what Poles had hoped when joining the EU.

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