• October 2, 2015
  • 225

Courts are to be impartial! A picket for defense of Polish schools

Another picket for defense of Polish schools took place in front of the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court edifice. Why exactly there? Because the representatives of the Forum of Parents from the Polish Schools in Lithuania doubt the impartiality of judge Irmantas Jarukaitis, head of the judicial jury which ruled on the Polish Szymon Konarski High School in Vilnius.

The Szymon Konarski High School is one of the nine schools in Vilnius which are to be reorganized into elementary schools under the capital act of 29 July 2015. The communities of the reorganized schools do not agree with the local authorities’ decision, for this reason they decided to seek justice in court.

The Szymon Konarski High School was the first to turn to court. Parents asked the court to suspend the decision, explaining that if the 11th and 12th grades are not formed since 1 September 2015, the students will have to look for another school a few weeks before the new school year and this, in turn, will negatively affect their preparations for the Matura exam.

A written response on the “Konarski” issue came on the 18th of September from the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, which says that the decision by  the Vilnius Local Government Council of 19 July 2015 was overruled until further reconsideration on the 5th of October.

The local government of Vilnius made use of an opportunity to appeal their decision and the higher court took the side of the city government: the decision of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court was overruled. The school was informed about the decision by telephone on the day preceding the new school year at 4.30 pm. Who is the victim in this case? This year’s high school graduates, of course.

The local government made use of legal opportunities, but the disturbing part is the haste with which the higher court made the decision favorable for the local authorities. Court of Appeal – the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court used accelerated procedures to accepted the judicial decision, giving the higher court no time to comment on the crucial issue of the litigation.

“Konarski” is not the only Polish school which sued the local government of Vilnius. The problem also concerns the Lazynai and the Joachim Lelewel High Schools. Since the beginning of September, the protests have not ceased. Parents have already picketed in front of the Ministry of Justice, calling for the independence of the judiciary.

In the petition addressed to the Minister of Justice, the strike committees of the Polish schools in Lithuania, the Forum of Parents from the Polish Schools in Lithuania, and School Defense Committee note that Irmantas Jarukaitis and Remigijus Šimašius both graduated from the Department of Law of the Vilnius University in the same year (1997) and when the mayor of Vilnius was holding the position of Minister of Justice, Jarukaitis was working in the Department of the European Union Law by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania.

Based on: own information.

Translated by Diana Dymel within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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