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World War II crimes violates freedom of expression

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The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) media freedom representative Harlem Desir expressed Thursday his concern over the new Polish law which criminalizes statements accusing Poles of complicity in the Holocaust, calling the legislation a violation of the freedom of expression. reports citing Sputnik.

The law in question was passed by the Polish Senate in a 57-23 vote, with two abstentions. Apart from criminalizing the notion of Poland's complicity in World War II crimes, the legislation criminalizes denials of the killings of Poles by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in that period and outlaws Ukrainian nationalist ideology. The law is now pending the signature of Polish President Andrzej Duda.

"I have serious concerns about the law, which criminalizes speech in historical matters … Though we all know the sensitivities around historical events, freedom of expression is of particular importance for historians and academics. History is a matter of independent academic research and of free discussion, not a judiciary decision. The law should be rejected as a disproportionate restriction of the freedom of expression. Only when statements constitute incitement to violence or discrimination could they be criminalized," Desir said, as quoted by the OSCE statement.

The OSCE representative called on Duda to abstain from enacting the bill.

"I hope that to protect freedom of expression the law will be vetoed by the president," Desir added.

Earlier in the day, the Polish Foreign Ministry refuted the United States' and Israel's accusations that the new legislation limited the freedom of expression and restricted historical debates.

2018.02.01 / 22:59
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