Anti-defamation law needs urgent correction - FM

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said on Saturday that the country's controversial anti-defamation law needs urgent correction as it causes problems in relations with the US and Israel.

Czaputowicz was asked on a private radio station on Saturday whether he agreed with the opinion of Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin, that the law governing the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) needs urgent correction. Deputy PM Gowin recently stated that the IPN law "in its current form doesn't serve Poland's national interests in a really effective way," and should undergo correction.

"I think yes, I would agree with that opinion," the foreign minister replied. "Jarosław Gowin meets with politicians in the United States, in Israel, and he realises that a decision is necessary, so that we determine our position, because there is a certain distrust, disquiet about the situation."

"In relations with the United States and Israel it is a problem, here we need to agree, that a certain decision needs to be taken, Deputy PM Gowin has a good understanding here," Czaputowicz commented. "A gesture needs to be made and moreover it is happening, the president (Andrzej Duda - PAP) has sent the law to the Constitutional Tribunal (for assessment - PAP)." In the foreign minister's view, the law has an effect on the climate of talks with Americans.

The so-called anti-defamation law, passed by parliament in January and amending the law on the National Remembrance Institute, makes it a crime to publicly and falsely accuse the Polish nation or state of partial or full responsibility for the crimes committed by the German Third Reich or for other crimes against humanity or peace, and for war crimes (or to drastically downplay the responsibility of the actual perpetrators). Offenders face a fine or a prison sentence of up to three years.

The legislation has been criticised by the US and Israel, on the grounds that it could curb the freedom of speech of Holocaust survivors, for example.

Asked about a statement in the US Senate by nominee to the position of US ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher that the IPN law had sparked a rise of anti-Semitism in Central and Eastern Europe, Czaputowicz said the remark was unfortunate, and that "it was certainly an unjustified comment."

"The IPN law certainly cannot be linked to a rise of anti-Semitism in Poland, because there is no such thing, however the American JUST Act (Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today, on Holocaust-era assets and related issues - PAP), which seeks to privilege a group of Polish citizens, in this case of Jewish origin, over other Poles, can cause a rise of resentment over such unequal treatment," he observed.