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The campaign ‘Let’s delete Article 212 of the Criminal Code’

On Monday, 5 September, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Polish Chamber of Press Publishers and Association of Local Newspapers launched the campaign ‘Let’s delete Article 212 of the Criminal Code’.

Currently, article 212 provides for a penalty of fine or limitation of liberty (community work) for the offence of defamation.  ‘The purpose of our campaign is to obtain endorsement from as many policy-makers who opt for abolishing article 212 as possible’, says Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, coordinator of the project .

‘In recent years we’ve been observing a rise in convictions under article 212, not only those of journalists’, said Wiesław Podkański, Head of the Polish Chamber of Press Publishers, at the press conference launching the campaign. Increasingly more often this article is used to prosecute individuals publicly expressing their views. This was the case of Izabela Lewandowska-Malec, professor of law at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, who was found guilty of defamation under article 212. Professor Lewandowska-Malec, a city councillor in a town near Cracow, wrote in a letter to the Polish Press Agency: ‘I’m inclined to say that the mayor exerts a pressure on prosecuting authority, acting beyond the legal boundaries’. This sentence was the basis for indicting her for defamation.

Campaign organisers wish to highlight the negative effects of the application of article 212 and emphasise that civil remedies can be well used in cases of the infringement of personal interests by libel or slander.

The initiative has been supported by prominent journalists and column writers. ‘Prisons are not for words’, says Piotr Najsztub in one of the videos promoting the campaign. Last week the action was endorsed by the Head of the Poland’s Bar Association Andrzej Zwara.

For more information about the campaign, visit www.wykresl212kk.pl (available only in Polish)


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