Polish President Signs Controversial Holocaust Bill Into Law

08 February, 2018, 00:53 | Author: Bert Pena
  • Poland's President Andrzej Duda announced Tuesday that he would sign a controversial Holocaust bill which has sparked tensions with Israel the U.S. and Ukraine

The criticism from Tillerson came hours after Polish President Andrzej Duda signed the measure, which would impose criminal penalties for blaming the Holocaust and other Nazi war crimes on the nation of Poland.

Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said "there is not the slightest doubt about who is responsible for the extermination camps, who made them work to kill millions of European Jews: namely the Germans".

The law will ban accusations that Poles were complicit in Nazi crimes committed in the country.

In addition, the document envisages punishment for denial of the "Volyn massacre" and the use of the expression "Polish death camps" in relation to the camps that were located in Poland during the Second World War. Those who will be convicted will face fines or be jailed for up to three years.

The camps were built and operated by Nazi Germany after it invaded Poland in 1939.

Poland's rightwing nationalist government says the bill is necessary to protect the reputation of Poles as victims of Nazi aggression.

Defending the law, Duda said it would not prohibit Holocaust survivors and witnesses from talking about crimes committed by individual Poles.

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"But it is also a success for the image, not only of PolskieRadio.pl or Polish Radio but. of Poland", Chęciński said, attributing the record to the website's availability in three languages: Polish, English and German.

"I have chose to sign the law but also to send it to the Constitutional Tribunal", Duda told reporters in Warsaw yesterday.

"There is too much room for interpretation", Agnieszka Markiewicz, the director of the American Jewish Committee's central Europe office told The Washington Post. "A scholar associated with a university might be excluded, but what about a school teacher who shares some of the disgusting stories that happened in Poland?"

On February 6, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a statement expressing disappointment and concern over the adoption of amendments to the law on the Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation and other legislative acts, and also called on Duda to intervene in the situation.

Poland's president must still sign the legislation into law.

"We hope that within the allotted time, until the court's deliberations are concluded, we will manage to agree on changes and corrections". Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared last week that "we have no tolerance for the distortion of the truth and rewriting history or denying the Holocaust". As Reuters notes, this could likely increase tensions with Ukrain.

Criticising Duda's move, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement: "Enactment of this law adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry".

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