The situation is now even worse, to the extent that it would not be unfair to compare Poland with Erdogan’s Turkey, in terms of the abandonment of the rule of law in those countries, save that Turkey has put many more officials in prison. An excellent study of the lawlessness of Poland has been published by the Oxford University Foundation for Law Justice & Society and can be read here http://www.fljs.org/sites/www.fljs.org/files/publications/The%20Constitutional%20Court%20of%20Poland.pdf.
In brief – and this is all rather complicated – the government and the supreme court of Poland, its Constitutional Court, are at odds with each other. The Court had the ability to strike down laws that were incompatible with the Polish Constitution (like in the USA). The extreme right wing Law & Justice Party (now that’s a misnomer, if ever there was one, as will be seen) has responded to the unwelcome independence of this Court by passing laws interfering with the appointment and dismissal of judges, politicising those appointments, restricting the publication of judgments, ignoring inconvenient judgments, meddling with criminal trial procedure, and dismissing some prosecutors, apparently because they were seen as anti-government. Each time the Court invalidates a new law as unconstitutional, the government retaliates by passing more laws curbing with the Court.
The Polish government has also abolished the independence of public radio and TV, taken control of their governing boards, and ignored a Court finding that laws restricting the media were invalid. Further new laws allow secret surveillance of all foreigners, mass night searches and the blocking of websites. One may well ask, is this more reminiscent of the communist regime of the past or of the Nazi occupiers?
And this is a country, Poland, throwing its weight around in the EU, the biggest recipient of European handouts. Its former Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, who presided over his state’s stagnation and discontent from 2007-14, is, almost unbelievably, President of the European Council (although opposed as such by the current Polish government). He is the one telling the UK what its obligations are under EU law as we Brexit. The EU tut tuts over Poland, but that is about as far as it goes. Likewise there is little it is minded to do about Hungary, which is getting rid of its distinguished Central European University and is also flouting many of the human rights laws on which Europe, unjustifiably, prides itself. Hungary sticks up for Poland, thick as thieves, so as to ensure that neither of them will suffer at the hands of the EU. So these are more good reasons for us to leave this institution which cannot prevent this decline in freedom, and within which we were powerless to stop it happening.
PS A recent conference at the European Parliament in Brussels chastised Poland over its failure to make restitution of property seized from its citizens by the Nazis and Communists, a situation that has lasted for 70 years. I will be surprised however if the EU is able to force Poland to abandon its resistance to justice.