Ruling party leader promises tough action on paedophilia

The PiS chairman announced that changes had been prepared to the Criminal Code which foresee high penalties for paedophilia. Marcin Bielecki/PAP

The chairman of Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jarosław Kaczyński, announced during a regional party convention in Szczecin (northern Poland) on Sunday, ruthless punishment for paedophilia and a raising of the threshold age for child abuse.

Kaczyński added that all child abusers would be severely punished, especially those who were in positions of care over minors, including priests.

Currently, sexual contact with a minor is considered paedophilia when the victim is under 15 years of age. Kaczyński announced a raising of the threshold age. "The boundary of criminal responsibility in Poland is - when it comes to the age of the victim - set very low, at 15 years. It will be raised, because it is essential. We need to be tough here," he asserted.

"And I warn you - let nobody here talk about ephebophilia or other similar justifications - meaning that if the victim is slightly older it is alright. No, ladies and gentlemen, it is not alright," the party chairman argued. "Especially harshly punished will be those to whom children have been entrusted and that of course also affects priests, but it concerns everybody (...) including known celebrities."

Jarosław Kaczyński also declared there could be no room for claiming that "thirteen-year-olds jump into grown men's beds" of their own volition, as has been used in the defence of at least one abuser he did not name. He emphasised that it is against Polish law and such attempts to justify abuse risk that people "will accuse us of shielding (abusers - PAP). "No, we will not shield them," Kaczyński declared.

The PiS chairman went on to state that, "in these matters we want to be really strict, mercilessly strict."

"Once again I stress that even the high-ranking in some organisation, including the church, not even a Noble Prize winner nor anyone else will be free from responsibility for that type of issue," he underscored. He added that the crimes of a few in the clergy should not be used as a basis for offending Catholics or attacking the church.

Jarosław Kaczyński drew attention to the fact that Poland wants to model itself on Ireland when it comes to economic development, but not in the case of activities against the Catholic Church. "Because the words of the Primate of the Millennium (Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński - PAP) - that he who wants to attack, destroy the Polish nation, will first attack the church - are true, just as they were when they were spoken."

The PiS chairman announced that changes had been prepared to the Criminal Code which foresee high penalties for paedophilia. He emphasised the need to protect "our values, those traditions." "Those that were formed during our history - as you all know, not an easy history - those that were formed through our religion, through the Church," Kaczyński asserted, explaining that the new punishments would be much harsher than those currently meted out.

"Very often today a suspended sentence is passed, practically no punishment, as they say 'on hinges(...)," Kaczyński pointed out, promising there would be no more soft approach. "(..) there will be harsh punishments, maybe even 30 years in prison," the party leader declared.