Warsaw: Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has signed a controversial Holocaust bill approved by the country’s Senate and lower house, despite widespread international protest.

Duda will submit the signed bill to the Constitutional Court for further scrutiny, he said earlier on Tuesday before signing the bill in Warsaw, to ensure it does not infringe upon freedom of expression.

The legislation has already triggered a diplomatic crisis with Israel. It mandates fines or up to three years’ imprisonment for attributing responsibility to the Polish people or state for Nazi atrocities committed during World War II.

In a markedly restrained statement, the Israeli foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Israel expresses “reservations” about the law and hopes that changes are made to the legislation before a Constitutional Court decision is reached.

“Israel and Poland have a common responsibility to investigate and preserve the history of the Holocaust,” the Foreign Ministry said.

 Opponents complain that the bill is vaguely formulated, and could thus be used by Polish leaders to cast aside cases that prove Poland’s complicity in crimes committed against European Jews.

They also argue that it endangers freedom of expression. Poland’s government denies this and emphasises that art and science are exempt from the regulations.

Duda made it clear that Poland did not exist as a state during World War II and therefore could not have participated in the Holocaust. He also said that Poland has the right to protect itself from false accusations, and since the law serves that purpose, he will sign it into effect.

 

Read the full article by Natalie Skrzypczak at the Sydney Morning Herald.

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