US condemns Polish president’s decision to sign Holocaust bill into law

After Polish President Andrzej Duda signed the controversial Holocaust bill that criminalizes accusations of Polish complicity in Nazi war crimes, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement condemning the move. “We believe that open debate, scholarship, and education are the best means of countering misleading speech,” Tillerson said.
Guard tower at Auschwitz Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson criticized Tuesday Polish President Andrzej Duda’s decision to sign into law the controversial bill that makes it illegal to blame Poland and its citizens for Nazi crimes committed during the Second World War. Tillerson said in a statement that Washington frowns upon Duda’s authorization of the law.

“The United States is disappointed that the President of Poland has signed legislation that would impose criminal penalties for attributing Nazi crimes to the Polish state,” Tillerson said. “We understand this law will be referred to Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal. Enactment of this law adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry.”

Tillerson claimed in the statement that while the term “Polish death camps” is “painful and misleading,” historical inaccuracies should be countered while protecting freedom of speech. “We believe that open debate, scholarship, and education are the best means of countering misleading speech,” he added. Historical inaccuracies like “Polish death camps” must be combatted in ways that protect fundamental freedoms. We believe that open debate, scholarship, and education are the best means of countering misleading speech. #Poland https://t.co/CY5AiY0xRs — Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) February 6, 2018

The US State Department had also slammed the controversial bill prior to Duda’s decision. In a statement released after the Polish Senate approved the bill, the department warned that the draft legislation could seriously affect Poland’s strategic interests and relationships: “We encourage Poland to reevaluate the legislation in light of its potential impact on the principle of free speech and on our ability to be effective partners.”

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