Poland's President Duda says will sign Holocaust bill into law

07 February, 2018, 01:18 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
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The parliament believes the legislative changes adopted by the Polish Parliament contradict the democratic values and strategic partnership of the two countries.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said Tuesday he will sign a controversial bill that outlaws blaming Poland for atrocities committed by Nazis during the Holocaust.

But that will happen after he has signed the bill into law. But at the same time...

The bill proposed by Poland's ruling conservative Law and Justice Party calls for fines and prison sentences of up to three years for purposely trying to attribute the crimes Nazi Germany carried out during the almost six-year occupation to the Polish nation as a whole.

Israel's Foreign Ministry responded to the news of Duda's approval Tuesday, expressing hope that the constitutional review would result in "changes and corrections".

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But Poland also had its own anti-Semitic movements before the war - including government officials exploring ways to deport them from the country - and several anti-Jewish riots broke out as the Nazis conquered Polish territory. For the many Poles and their descendants that risked their lives to help the Jewish people - as indeed is recognised by Yad Vashem in the Righteous Among the Nations where over 25% of the overall honourees are Polish nationals - the use of "Polish death camps" is highly offensive.

Analysts say that the legislation has isolated Poland from Israel, a key ally of the United States and neighbouring Ukraine. However, he said he would send it to Poland's Constitutional Tribunal for further discussion.

Like people in other parts of German-occupied Europe, Poles reacted to the mass killing of Jews in different ways.

The State Department had warned last week that such a law could have "repercussions" on Poland's relationship with the United States.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US understands that phrases like "Polish death camps" are "inaccurate, misleading, and hurtful", but voiced concern the legislation could undermine free speech and academic discourse.

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The legislation was introduced by Poland's governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party to stop people from erroneously describing Nazi German death camps as being Polish, simply due to their geographical location.

But he said the point of the law is to prevent Poles and Poland from being wrongly accused of institutionalized participation in the Holocaust. The law has sparked aggressive disputes within Poland as well as overseas.

On Tuesday morning, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced he will approve the controversial Holocaust bill.

The U.S. has indicated that the law could suppress free speech.

The law would make it illegal to accuse the nation of complicity in crimes committed by Nazi Germany, including the Holocaust.

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