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Polish president to sign anti-defamation bill, but will ask top court for opinion

PR dla Zagranicy
Paweł Kononczuk 06.02.2018 11:34
President Andrzej Duda said on Tuesday he has decided to sign into law a bill that has angered Israel by imposing a jail term for anyone who accuses Poland of being complicit in the Holocaust.
President Andrzej Duda. Photo: PAP/Rafał GuzPresident Andrzej Duda. Photo: PAP/Rafał Guz

Duda said in a televised address that he would also refer the law to Poland's highest court so it can assess whether the new rules are in line with the constitution.

Duda’s move comes despite a warning by the United States, of which Poland is a staunch ally, that the legislation could damage Warsaw's relations with America as well as with Israel.

The US State Department has urged Poland “to reevaluate the legislation in light of its potential impact on the principle of free speech.”

Reacting to Duda's move, Israel's foreign ministry said it hoped that "changes and corrections" would be made to the Polish anti-defamation law.

Explaining his decision, Duda said on Tuesday that "the good name of Poland and Poles must be protected."

Freedom of speech

But he added that he wanted Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal to examine whether freedom of speech is "unjustifiably restricted” by the new law.

In Poland, the new rules are seen as a way of fighting the use of the phrase “Polish death camps”, which many say implies the country's involvement in the Holocaust.

Poland has long fought the use of such phrases, which have often appeared in foreign media in relation to Nazi German-run extermination camps located in occupied Polish territory during World War II.

Poland’s ruling conservatives have said such phrases distort history.

But commentators have said that Israel is concerned that the new law could mean penalties for anyone who criticises individual Poles' role in the Holocaust.

Israeli ambassador to Poland Anna Azari has said that in Israel the law "is seen as creating a possibility of punishment for Holocaust survivors' testimony.”

Poland did not collaborate with Nazis: president

Duda said on Tuesday that "there was no systemic participation by the Polish state, which did not exist, or by any Polish institutions in the German industry of death" during World War II.

He added that Poland, unlike some other European countries, did not collaborate with the Nazi German regime.

He noted that many Poles, putting their own lives at risk, tried to save Jews during World War II.

Public broadcaster Polish Radio has launched a new website, GermanDeathCamps.info, aimed at debunking misconceptions about Poland’s role in the Holocaust.


Source: TVP Info

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