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Judges From Across Europe March In Support Of Polish Counterparts

Polish Constitutional Tribunal chairman, Judge Andrzej Rzeplinski (file photo)

Thousands of judges and supporters from throughout Europe marched in Warsaw to express solidarity with Polish jurists who are protesting a bill that would allow the government to fire judges whose rulings officials don't like.

The January 11 procession -- dubbed the March of a Thousand Robes -- went through the city center from the Supreme Court to the parliament.

Organizers said judges and other supporters from 20 European countries participated in the march, part of the four-year effort to protect judicial independence in the European Union and NATO country.

City officials estimated that 15,000 people took part in the march.

The protests were aimed at plans by the right-wing Polish government to "discipline" judges, according to Iustitia, the Polish judges association.

“We have been in a difficult situation for more than four years,” Supreme Court Judge Michal Laskowski told AP.

“We are not alone. We can see that today,” he said.

The legislation, to which the EU and UN have raised objections, has been passed by the lower house of parliament and will be debated in the Senate next week.

Opponents say the legislation is the most dangerous blow to Poland's democratic foundations since the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power in 2015 and that it would end the separation of powers in the country.

The government contends the law would help bring order to a dysfunctional judicial system dominated by what it describes as a “caste” of privileged and sometimes corrupt judges and would allow it to purge former Communist judges from the judiciary. It rejected a call from the European Commission to halt work on the legislation and conduct consultations.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa