The Brexit referendum demonstrated just how little most British people know about the European Union and the power of nationalistic and populist right-wing politics. However, it’s far from perfect and the institution is well overdue widespread reform. The addition of new members from the former Eastern Bloc and Baltic states added several new challenges which were never been adequately addressed. One of the more pressing issues right now is the attempt by the Polish and Hungarian governments to circumvent the rule of law.
Poland, like many democracies, has a separation of powers. The legislative branch passes laws through parliament. The executive enacts those laws and puts them into policy. The judiciary administers justice and ensures laws are upheld. When more than one of these responsibilities is placed into the same hands, then problems begin to happen. Judges Under Pressure follows Judge Igor Tuleya, the face of the protest movement in Poland, as he tries to hold the ruling party to account.
Judges Under Pressure is a stark reminder of how precious and fleeting democracy can be. The right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS) are rapidly eroding the freedoms of the Polish people. Kacper Lisowski’s documentary puts the audience front and centre in the protests and the struggle to uphold democracy. There’s a worrying slide, across the world, towards authoritarianism. Judges Under Pressure documents one of many battles.
Judges Under Pressure screens at Human Rights Watch Film Festival London.