Former Rafto Prize laureate appointed as new Minister of Justice in Poland

In 2018, the Polish lawyer and ombudsman Adam Bodnar was awarded the Rafto Prize. Now, Bodnar has been appointed as the Minister of Justice in Poland's new government.

On Tuesday, December 12, Poland's newly appointed Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, presented his new government. Included in it is the Rafto Prize laureate and partner since 2018, former ombudsman and law professor Adam Bodnar.

Bodnar has been appointed as the Minister of Justice in the new government. In the image at the top of the article (screenshot from Newsweek Polska), Bodnar is seen greeting President Andrzej Duda.

Iver Ørstavik, senior adviser at the Rafto Foundation, is currently in Poland this week. He is delighted about the change in government in the country.

"The election that brought the coalition under Donald Tusk to goverment is a remarkable victory for liberal democracy in Poland and the EU," says Ørstavik.

Challenging Tasks Ahead

Bodnar faces challenging tasks in restoring the independence of the judiciary in Poland. Since 2015, the national-conservative and right-wing populist party "Law and Justice" (PiS) has been governing the country.

Under the PiS government, several thousand judges have been appointed through procedures that undermine their independence. The abuse of legal institutions over the past eight years needs to be rectified.

Bodnar and the new government will encounter strong opposition from PiS, which is now the largest opposition party, and President Andrzej Duda from PiS, who can veto new legislation.

"The path ahead to restore the rule of law in Poland, which is a necessary part of any liberal democracy, will be very demanding. The work will require careful and consistent support from European institutions and friendly states like Norway," says Ørstavik."

Adam Bodnar is Poland's new Minister of Justice.

Norway, an Important Ally

Norwegian authorities have provided important support to independent voices in the Polish civil society through the Norway Grants initiative.

The appreciation for this contribution was warmly conveyed by various representatives from civil organizations at a conference in Poland this week, focusing on how to restore independent courts in the country.

Bodnar will be assisted by Deputy Ministers: his former Deputy Ombudsman Zuzanna Rudzińska-Bluszcz, as well as Rafto partner of the Free Courts Initiative and Helsinki Foundation Maria Ejchart-Dubois, and Spokesperson for the Judges' association Themis, Dariusz Mazur.

The Rafto Foundation extends its warmest congratulations to Adam Bodnar and his eminent team!