The U.S. State Department urged Poland on Wednesday to re-evaluate the draft law on the Institute of National Memory, expressing concern about consequences on Warsaw’s relations with the United States and Israel if the draft becomes law. This was reported by Reuters.
The bill has triggered a diplomatic spat between Israel and Warsaw’s conservative government since its initial approval in the lower house of parliament last week, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comparing it to an effort to change history.
Under the proposed legislation, violators would face three years in prison for a mention of “Polish death camps”, although scientific research into World War II would not be constrained.
Poland has fought against the use of the phrase in some Western media for years, arguing it suggested the Polish state was at least partly responsible for the camps, where millions of people, mostly Jews, were killed by Nazi Germany.
The camps were built and operated by the Nazis after the 1939 invasion of Poland, home to Europe’s largest Jewish community at the time.
“We have to send a clear signal to the world that we won’t allow for Poland to continue being insulted,” Patryk Jaki, a deputy justice minister, told reporters in parliament.
Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the US Department of State said in a statement on Wednesday that the United States is concerned about the repercussions on Poland’s relations with the United States and Israel if the draft becomes law.
“We encourage Poland to re-evaluate the legislation in light of its potential impact on the principle of free speech and on our ability to be effective partners,” Nauert said.
As it was reported earlier the Senate of Poland at about 3 am (Kyiv time) adopted a law on the National Memory Institute of Poland, which criminalizes the denial of the crimes of Ukrainian nationalists against the Poles. Polish Sejm on January 26 adopted the bill, providing criminal penalty for public accusations of Poland of crimes during Holocaust, of helping Nazi Germany, of military crimes or crimes against humanity. The bill forbids to use combination of words “Polish death camp” when describing concentration camps that were on the territory of Poland. Any citizen of the country, including foreigners that breached the law will have to pay a fine or imprisoned for up to three years.