In the run-up to the Week of the Rule of Law, which is from May 30 to June 3, 2023, the Polish photo exhibition ‘Sprawiedliwość’ (Justice) with photos from photographer Piotr Wójcik is on display at the Atrium in The Hague from May 27 to June 16, 2023. This photo exhibition fits within The Hague, international city of Peace and Justice.

Renowned photographer Piotr Wójcik  who works for Picture Doc Foundation, tells in his documentary photographic project ‘Justice’ the story of independent judges, prosecutors and lawyers, who are an important voice in the debate on the Polish rule of law. Wójcik portrayed representatives of these various legal professions who, because they do not give in to pressure from the authorities, face the consequences of their steadfastness on a daily basis. Come and see this inspiring exhibition to understand how citizens’ choices can shape the rule of law.

This exhibition is organized by the Judges for Judges Foundation in cooperation with the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights and is part of Just Peace The Hague.

Justice (Sprawiedliwość)
Photographer Piotr Wójcik (1967):
Eight years after the government under the leadership of Law and Justice (PiS) began its destruction of the judiciary, it has become apparent that there is a group of lawyers in Poland, including judges, prosecutors, and attorneys, who consistently oppose their so-called “judicial reform”. Attacked on an almost daily basis via (PiS-backed) public television and the right-wing press, they have not allowed themselves to be intimidated or broken. The judges are trying to survive, despite being under pressure from the newly created Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, which has not been recognised as a ‘court’ by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Regardless of the most serious reservations about the legality of this chamber, it continues to mete out harsh disciplinary penalties to recalcitrant judges. In 2016 many independent prosecutors were reassigned to lower positions, and five years later independent prosecutors were being ‘sent out’ on secondments to locations as far as 400 km from their places of residence as a form of repression. I firmly believe that judicial independence, an independent prosecution service and the bar are the pillars of a democratic state under the rule of law. I have decided to document and present herein the biographies of those judges, prosecutors and attorneys who have had the courage to say “no” to the destruction of the legal system in Poland. 

20200218 Warszawa. Sąd Okręgowy w Warszawie. Projekt sędziowie - sprawiedliwość. Sędzia Igor Tuleya. Fot. Piotr Wójcik/Picture Doc
Photo: Igor Tuley, judge since 1996. Regional Court in Warsaw. Photographer: Piotr Wójcik/Picture Doc Foundation.

The JUSTICE project summarizes an eight-year struggle against the destruction of democracy in Poland and hopes to present the main actors within our Polish justice system. It is also a pretext to begin the debate on a new justice system.

We may be powerless, but not defenseless. I will keep repeating that it is worth defending values. And for that it is worth paying any price. As long as we fight, we will be the winners. The sun continues to shine despite being obscured behind clouds, and the day will always rise even after the longest night. Of this I am sure.

A Demonstration in front of the President’s Palace with the slogan "Free Courts, Free Elections, Free Poland.” Warsaw, July 24th, 2017. Photografer: Piotr Wójcik/Picture Doc Foundation.

A Demonstration in front of the President’s Palace with the slogan “Free Courts, Free Elections, Free Poland.” Warsaw, July 24th, 2017. Photografer: Piotr Wójcik/Picture Doc Foundation.

For more information about photographer Piotr Wojcik, go to his Instagram Page.

Foundation Judges for Judges
The Dutch foundation Rechters voor Rechters (Judges for Judges) is an independent and non-political foundation set up by judges to support fellow judges abroad who have run into problems or risk problems on account of their professional practice. These problems are mostly related to (presumed) violation of their professional independence. The foundation also concerns itself with judges, who have been discharged for disturbing reasons, have been arrested and imprisoned, put under pressure, are threatened or even assassinated.

Netherlands Institute for Human Rights
The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights conducts research, advises government and parliament, reports to international human rights institutions, provides information and promotes human rights education. In addition, the Board decides in individual cases whether someone has been discriminated against at work, in education or as a consumer. The Board also supervises the implementation of the UN Convention on Disability in the Netherlands.

Just Peace The Hague
The organization Just Peace gives peace and justice an important place in the hearts and actions of our residents, entrepreneurs, and organizations in the city of Peace & Justice, The Hague.