(CIVICUS Monitor) In January, both houses of the Polish parliament approved a controversial bill – the National Remembrance Institute Act (also known as the Holocaust Law) – that criminalises statements that “publicly and against the facts ascribe responsibility or co-responsibility for the crimes perpetrated by the Third German Reich to the Polish nation or the Polish state”. President Duda signed the bill, but also announced that he would file a motion with the Polish Constitutional Tribunal to review the constitutionality of certain provisions within the law.
"These guys who say ‘They the Jews’ and ‘We the Poles’ are out of their minds.” I spoke to some scholars about distressing new developments in #Poland. https://t.co/l857ixGmye
— Rachel Donadio (@RachelDonadio) February 10, 2018
The new law carries a penalty of a fine or up to three years in jail for claiming publicly and contrary to the facts that the Polish nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible for Nazi crimes. Civil society organisations fear that the law will discourage citizens from discussing and debating certain aspects of Poland’s history. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights office in Warsaw, Poland believes that the law could have another detrimental effect as it could be used against watchdog organisations that criticise the government or state institutions’ actions. Małgorzata Szuleka, lawyer and advocacy officer at the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Warsaw, asserted that the Foundation “find[s] the potential chilling effects of the National Remembrance Institute Act very concerning”.
Polish Center for Holocaust Research statement, January 29, 2018.
Statement of POLIN Museum and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland concerning a proposed amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance, January 29, 2018.
Statement of the Polish members of the Polish – Ukrainian Dialogue Group (Grupa Polsko – Ukraińskiego Dialogu), February 7, 2018.