Polish attorney general's office calls Holocaust law unconstitutional


Warsaw (AFP)

The Polish attorney general's office has described as partly unconstitutional the Holocaust law that was meant to defend Poland's image abroad but instead drew criticism from Israel, Ukraine and the United States.

The statement published Thursday came as a surprise, as Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro is also the head of the justice ministry that came up with the controversial law.

The legislation, which came into force earlier this month, imposes fines or up to three years in jail on anyone who ascribes "responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich."

The attorney general's office published its statement on the website of the Constitutional Court, which was tasked by the president with checking whether the law was constitutional.

The office said that penalising acts committed abroad independently of the laws in place there was against the Constitution, which opposes "excessive interference".

It added that the law was "dysfunctional", could have "opposite results than those intended" and could "undermine the Polish state's authority".

The law is at the centre of a row with Israel, which sees it as a bid to deny that certain Poles participated in the genocide of Jews during World War II.

Critics also worry that because of vague wording the legislation could open the door to prosecuting Holocaust survivors for their testimony.

The bill has also triggered public debate in Poland, where the Israeli embassy noted an increase in anti-Semitic statements.