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Open letter on the AntyKomor-pl website

The author of the AntyKomor-pl website posted critical and satirical remarks regarding the incumbent Polish President Bronisław Komorowski. In the early morning of 17 May 2011, officers of the Internal Security Agency (Agencja Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego, ABW) searched the apartment of the website creator as part of an investigation into the allegation of a potential insult to the head of state.

In the wake of this event, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has released an open letter emphasising the need to discuss the rationale behind maintaining the offence of insulting the head of state (Article 135 of the Polish Criminal Code).

According to the Foundation, this regulation does not adhere to the standards developed by the European Court of Human Rights, but rather establishes a stronger protection for the President contrary to the Court’s caselaw.

Proceedings launched on the basis of Article 135 can lead to serious problems for an individual, including police searches, pre-trial restrictive measures and restriction of personal liberty. The case involving the owner of AntyKomor-pl shows that this regulation in the Polish Criminal Code cannot be reconciled with contemporary standards of freedom of speech applicable in a democratic state.

The constitutionality of Article 135 is currently under review by the Constitutional Tribunal. The HFHR, which has issued an amicus curiae brief in this case, hopes that the Tribunal will soon deliver a judgement.

The Foundation has requested that the prosecution and the ABW take the steps necessary to uncover the identity of the official who ordered the action against the website’s owner and hold him or her accountable.

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