Judicial independence and the rule of law

The rule of law is the foundation of a well-functioning democracy. In recent years, we have seen an increasing pressure on democratic institutions in Central Europe, especially on judicial and investigative bodies. The independence of the judiciary is critically important, and the events in Poland and Hungary show us that it cannot be taken for granted.

In 2023, together with partners from Belgium, Poland and Malta, we have launched an international project called “Rule of Law in Europe for Lawyers (ROLL).” The aim of the project is to raise awareness among attorney, lawyers and other experts about international standards in the area of judicial independence and to prepare them for possible litigation of cases that could threaten an independent judiciary. Together with partners we will prepare a background study and organize a series of workshops for lawyers and attorney. Another aim of the project is to raise awareness within the professional community about the importance of the rule of law, in the form of information materials and podcasts.

The main topics the project deals with are:

  • Institutional independence of the judiciary and autonomy of the prosecution service, including governance structures and procedures 
  • Appointment procedures for the judiciary and prosecution 
  • Disciplinary procedures and accountability of judges and prosecutors 
  • Judicial ethics and accountability 
  • Freedom of expression of judges 

Our project partners are: 

In the project we closely cooperate with Helen Duffy from Human Rights in Practice. The project is supported by the Romanian National human rights institution.

FORUM is responsible for the project activities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Download complete project description:


WHAT’S NEW IN THE PROJECT

LITIGATION WORKSHOPS

To apply for workshops, fill in the registration form.

FACTSHEET ON JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE AND THE RULE OF LAW

PODCASTS

The ICJ launched the Judicial Independence Podcast on Spotify. The podcast series looks into the current challenges to the rule of law, particularly to the independence of the judiciary in Europe. Throughout the course of 10 episodes of this podcast, we will speak with experts to shed light at some of these issues and will explore ways to protect and preserve judicial independence, so that human rights across the EU can be effectively protected.

Listen to the podcast here.

  • PODCAST 1: In Episode 1, Karolína Babická, Legal Adivser of the ICJ interviews Róisín Pillay, Director of the Europe and Central Asia programme of the ICJ, on the Rule of Law and judicial independence in the EU, discussing the main problems EU Member States encounter in recent years, responses by the EU and what role can strategic litigation and international courts play.

  • PODCAST 2: In Episode 2, Karolína Babická, Legal Adviser of the ICJ interviews the expert Michał Wawrykiewicz, who is a Polish lawyer, specialised in human rights and EU law and the co-founder of the Free Courts Initiative. Their discussion puts under the microscope the rule of law situation in Poland, where judicial reforms have seriously endangered the independence of the judiciary since many years ago and a number of  successful litigation took place with cases before the European Court for Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU.
  • PODCAST 3: In Episode 3, the focus is on the EU level and currently on-going Article 7 proceedings against Hungary and Poland. Karolína Babická, Legal Adviser of the International Commission of Jurists interviews the expert Natacha Kazatchkine, Senior Policy Analyst in Open Society Foundations.

The Rule of Law in Europe for Lawyers (ROLL) project is financially supported by the European Commission, Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (CERV), under project No. 101084783.

Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.