Published: Thu, February 08, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

USA 'disappointed' by signing of Holocaust law in Poland

USA 'disappointed' by signing of Holocaust law in Poland

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the law "adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry".

But he said the point of the law is to prevent the Polish nation as a whole from being wrongly accused of institutionalized participation in the Holocaust.

The law has been criticised by the U.S. as an attack on free speech, although it provides exemptions for academic researchers and artists.

The bill also prohibits phrases such as "Polish death camps". Amendments to the bill could be added following the review.

Duda also said he would send the law, which will come into force, to the Constitutional Tribunal to rule on whether it conforms with constitutional guarantees on freedom of speech.

Poland's foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the country's top diplomat Jacek Czaputowicz met Azari on Monday, assuring her that Poland was opposed to Holocaust denial as well as "the related attribution of complicity in organizing the Holocaust to Poland". "We believe that open debate, scholarship, and education are the best means of countering misleading speech", Tillerson said.

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The legislation imposes jail terms for suggesting the country was complicit in the Holocaust and despite protests from Israel and the United States, Poland's right-wing government has defended it saying it is necessary to protect the reputation of Poles as victims of Nazi aggression.

Israeli legislators have in response drafted a bill that would offer support to any Holocaust survivors or educators prosecuted under the new Polish law.

Tel Aviv continues to insist that roughly 200,000 Poles participated in the killing or the denunciation of Jews during the German occupation of Poland during World War II.

It excludes those who speak "within the framework of artistic or scientific activity". It hoped that Poland would still amend the law.

At the time, Poland's then-Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland should take "legal action against all those powerful foreign media organisations that still dare use" terms like "Polish death camps". "I accepted an invitation to a dialogue based on truth, the Polish Government chose to avoid this truth". But the president also said that "there was no systemic way in which Poles took part in" Nazi crimes. It is that chapter of history that the Law and Justice Party wants to emphasize.

"The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it", Bennett later said in a statement. Historians have pointed to incidents, including a 1941 atrocity in the town of Jedwabne, in which Poles rounded up and killed their Jewish neighbors.

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