Polish President: Timing of Holocaust bill 'problematic'

Andrzej Duda says it was 'wrong' to pass legislation banning use of term 'Polish death camps' on eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Gary Willig,

 Andrzej Duda
Andrzej Duda
Reuters

Polish President Andrzej Duda said that the timing and language of the country's new Holocaust law were problematic.

"It was wrong that the [law] was adopted on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day," Duda told Polish newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

He also said that the speed with which legislators pushed the law through the parliament surprised him. "It is difficult for me to understand what motivated legislators to act this way."

Last month, the Polish President signed the bill into law, after it passed by wide margins in both chambers of the Polish legislature.

The law bans the phrase “Polish death camps”, and outlaws claims of collusion by the Polish nation with the Holocaust.

Anyone found guilty of ascribing “responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich” could be sentenced to as much as three years in prison under the new law.

The law went into effect March 1 after its implementation had been delayed by a month.

The law drew heavy criticism from the Israeli government, with the US State Department also expressing opposition to the bill. Polish opposition parties also criticized the law, and proposed to amend the bill.

President Duda said that sections of the bill were problematic and that he expected the Polish courts to strike the law down.

"I promised that I would strive to exclude artistic and research activity from this law," he said.

He said that he was surprised by the level of opposition to the law by the State of Israel, but despite the problems with the law, "no one from abroad can dictate to us whether Poles are allowed to defend themselves against slandering."


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