Polish institution to sue Argentinian website for defamation

The Polish League Against Defamation (RDI) has filed a lawsuit in a Warsaw court against an Argentinian news website, which the Polish institute said will be the first trial under new anti-defamation laws.

In a story about the Jedwabne massacre, Argentina’s Pagina12 website used a picture, taken posthumously, of a group of partisans who fought against the Soviet-installed regime in Poland and who died in 1950, RDI said.

According to RDI, connecting the pogrom with communist-era independence fighters is “manipulation” and “against the Polish nation and the good name of Polish soldiers”.

RDI added that Pagina12 intended to “confirm Polish antisemitism to its readers” and, demonstrated “huge ignorance about history, for which it should officially apologise to all Poles”.

“This is the first court proceeding in which we will use the new law,” said RDI, which sifts through domestic and international media for cases of defamation against Poland.

RDI was referring to a law which sparked international controversy and which entered into effect on Thursday.

The new rules could see jail terms of up to three years for anyone who accuses Poland of being complicit in the Holocaust or other crimes against humanity during World War II and the communist-era.

The law was recently signed by President Andrzej Duda who said he would also refer the law to Poland’s highest court so it can assess whether the new rules are in line with the constitution.

In Poland, the new rules are seen as a way of fighting the use of the phrase “Polish death camps”, which many say implies the country’s involvement in the Holocaust.

Poland has long fought the use of such phrases, which have often appeared in foreign media in relation to Nazi German-run extermination camps located in occupied Polish territory during World War II.

Poland’s ruling conservatives have said such phrases distort history.

But commentators have said that Israel is concerned that the new law could mean penalties for anyone who criticises individual Poles’ role in the Holocaust.

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