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Polish parliament approves removal of criminal law provisions from controversial Holocaust law

TVN24 News in English

tvn24Polish parliament has passed the amendment to the bill on the National Remembrance Institute

Polish parliament passed an amendment to the bill on National Remembrance Institute that eliminates jail penalties for suggesting the nation was complicit in crimes against Jews. The vote was preceeded by prime minister Morawiecki's speech. "Those who say that Poland may be responsible for the crimes of World War Two deserve jail terms. But we operate in an international context and we take that into account," he said. Poland will continue to "fight for the truth" about the Holocaust, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday.

Poland's lower house of Parliament voted on Wednesday to remove jail penalties for suggesting the nation was complicit in crimes against Jews from a Holocaust law.

388 MPs voted for passing the legislation, 25 were against and 5 abstained.

The Speaker of the Senate Stanisław Karczewski said before the vote that once the Sejm passes the amendment, the Senate will work on the bill later on Wednesday.

International context

Earlier this year, Poland angered Israel and the United States by introducing legislation that included such provisions.

"Those who say that Poland may be responsible for the crimes of World War Two deserve jail terms" Morawiecki told parliament. "But we operate in an international context and we take that into account," he said.

Poland's Prime Minister said on Wednesday he wanted to amend a law the imposed jail terms for suggesting the nation was complicit in the Holocaust, backing down on legislation.

Fight for the truth

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks about the Holocaust law in the parliamenttvn24

He asked the lower house of parliament to remove the jail terms from the bill - an unexpected announcement that came as Poland's government and its judicial reforms face heightened scrutiny from the European Union. Lawmakers started a debate on the changes on Wednesday morning.

Poland will continue to "fight for the truth" about the Holocaust, added Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

"We resign from the criminal provisions," the head of prime minister's office, Michal Dworczyk, told public radio, saying those parts of the bill would divert attention from the original point of the legislation.

The government said that following a public debate on the bill, it had decided that there were other "tools" it could use to "protect Poland's good name".

Different circumstances

"We're not backtracking from the most important provisions of the bill on National Remebrance Institute; to us, the truth about history is still essential, we want to speak about truth," said the Speaker of the Senate Stanisław Karczewski.

"At the moment, we're operating under different circumstances. The reality has taken us by surprise. We must admit that because none of us had foreseen such consequences. We must take all the circumstances into account," added Mr Karczewski.

About 3 million Jews who lived in pre-war Poland were murdered by the Nazis, accounting for about half of all Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Jews from across the continent were sent to be killed at death camps built and operated by Germans in occupied Poland - home to Europe's biggest Jewish community at the time - including Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor.

Thousands of Poles risked their lives to protect Jewish neighbours during the war. But research published since the fall of communism in 1989 showed that thousands also killed Jews or denounced those who hid them to the Nazi occupiers, challenging the national narrative that Poland was solely a victim.

Autor: gf / Źródło: tvn24

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