WARSAW – Only a few months after it was made illegal to accuse the Polish nation of complicity in the Holocaust, Poland moved on Wednesday to defuse the controversial law by eliminating criminal sanctions for offenders
The United States States and other traditional allies had criticized the Polish government over the bill passed in February, which was condemned as largely unenforceable, as a threat to freedom of speech and as an act of historical revisionism.
Although both Poles living in Poland and the Jews suffered an immense loss during the First World War II, the law drove a wedge between Israel and Poland and put back years of hard work to repair bitter sentiments.
By changing the statute, the ruling Justice and Justice Party hoped to remedy some of the diplomatic damage it had caused with far-reaching judicial reviews, condemned by the leaders of the European Union as a threat to the rule of law were.
The European Commission, the executive branch of the Union, has opened a procedure that could deprive Poland of its voting rights under Article At a hearing in Luxembourg on Tuesday, Polish heads of state and government spent about three hours with European leaders, to weigh what measures should be taken to be in the starting blocks Should Poland continue its current course? The hearing did not seem to deliver substantial results.
"The systemic threat to the rule of law persists," said Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission, at a press conference after the hearing. "In order to say that it no longer exists, we will need a few more steps from the Polish side."
"We have no idea of that today," he said.
Konrad Szymanski Deputy Foreign Minister of Poland said after the meeting that it was not clear what would happen next in a dispute, he said, pushing the bloc of nations into an "unknown land".
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he "regretted" the threats over the loss of suffrage and said the government would continue.
"Our partners do not understand what the post-communist reality looks like," he said. "The justice system had a problem with self-purification."
Critics say that the argument is deceptive and that communist rule ended almost three decades ago and that only a handful of judges from that period remain on the bench. Instead, they see the changes as an attempt by the Justice and Justice party to gain control of the courts.
The party that came to power to rid Poland of corruption has systematically scrutinized all aspects of the judiciary over the past three years – from the country's Constitutional Court to the body that judges the nation's judges selects.
A new law against the Supreme Court, due to come into force on Tuesday, could lead to a forced resignation of nearly 40 percent by current judges, including the President of the Tribunal. Any judge who wishes to stay could do so only if the President agrees.
There will also be a new "Extraordinary Appeals Chamber" within the Supreme Court, with the power to reopen cases of the past 20 years at the request of the Prosecutor
For those who are concerned with the state of law the controversy over the Holocaust law provides an insight into the politicization of the justice system. The law applies to statements made inside and outside Poland.
When the law was passed, Polish politicians declared they wanted a comprehensive understanding of Poland's tragic history during the war, when three million ethnic Poles lost their lives, along with three million Jews living in Poland – almost half all Jews killed in the Holocaust.
Many Polish citizens have long protested against the use of the phrase "Polish death camps" to refer to the concentration camps they have installed and controlled Nazi Germany. Poland has never set up a collaboration government: it ceased to exist as a nation after it was invaded at the beginning of the war and dismembered by Germany and the Soviet Union.
Over time, there is a legitimate fear in Poland of many of the killing sites in Poland that remain the strongest symbols of the horror of the Holocaust, the historical memory will blur Poland's complicated past.
However, the law went further than trying to prevent the use of the phrase "Polish death". It tried to criminalize any charges that the Polish nation was involved in the slaughter and was written so broadly that scholars, Journalists and historians feared that they could be abused to stifle any discussion about the roles of individual Poles. " 19659002] When the bill was being discussed, critics called it a violation of the country's constitution; normally it would have been sent to the Constitutional Court for review.
That did not happen at first. Mr. Duda signed the bill in February and then sent it to the court for review, which delayed its implementation.
On Tuesday, the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Lawyers issued a statement to the Constitutional Court stating that the imposition of "criminal restrictions on freedom of expression not only violates the norms of the constitution and international law, but also harms Poland and itself his relations with the Jewish people. "
Following the passing of the law and the increase in backlashes, Zbigniew Ziobro, Minister of Justice and Police Chief Prosecutor, was named part of the law that made people outside Poland unconstitutional
However, it was Mr. Ziobro's own ministry, which had drafted the law, and personally voted in favor of it as a member of parliament.
After months of defending the measure and calling for unfair attacks against Poland, the ruling party ruled that the quickest course of action would be to introduce an amendment that s crap its most controversial elements. The party acknowledged that the law has done more to damage Poland's reputation than to improve it.
Opposition MPs disbelieved Poland's position. Stefan Niesiolowski, a legislator of the opposition party Civic Platform, called the original law "idiocy."
And Kamila Gasiuk-Pihowicz of the Modern Party wondered why it had taken so long to see how much the law was being damaged. " Why so late ?, she said during the debate Wednesday. "Why did so much have to be broken?"