World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


Protest Campaign - Poland, 26 July 2017

Protest Campaign - Poland, 26 July 2017

Article ID:

21114

The Right Honourable Beata Szydlo
Prime Minister of Poland
Warsaw, Poland

 

26 July 2017

 

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern at moves by the Ministry of National Defence to bring a criminal prosecution against investigative journalist Tomasz Piątek.

According to reports, the Ministry of National Defence has accused Mr Piątek of using ‘violence or illegal threats’ and ‘public insults’ against ‘the constitutional authority of the Republic of Poland’, namely Antoni Macierewicz, Poland’s Minister of National Defence.

On July 11, the National Prosecutor’s Office announced that it had received a ‘notification of suspicion’ from the Ministry that Mr Piatek had committed a criminal offence by publishing a book entitled ‘Macierewicz and his Secrets’. The book, based on extensive investigative research, reveals Mr Macierewicz’s network of aides, collaborators and political associates who, in turn, have contacts with political and financial ties to Russian entities close to the Kremlin, its military intelligence agency and international criminal gangs.

Instead of attempting to seek redress through libel law, the Ministry is seeking to bring charges under three articles of the Criminal Code - Coercion, Insulting a Public Official and Legal Protection of Public Officials - that carry jail terms. Large parts of the author’s investigation have already been published by Gazeta Wyborcza, a leading Polish daily newspaper and its website.

We are seriously concerned that the Ministry of National Defence is seeking to silence an investigation into matters of clear public interest. Moreover, it is seeking to do so by attempting to bring criminal charges that carry jail terms. Such a move has a chilling effect on investigative reporting and restricts still further the space for freedom of expression in Poland.

We respectfully remind you that the government has a duty to support the right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.”

We respectfully call on you to take all possible steps to ensure that no charges are brought against Mr Piatek. We ask that in future your government fully respects its international obligations to freedom of expression.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

 

Michael Golden
President
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

 

David Callaway
President
World Editors Forum

 

Cc:Polish Ombudsman, Mr Adam Bodnar.
Helsinki Foundation, Warsaw

 


WAN-IFRA is the global organization for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.

Author

Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop

Date

2017-07-26 14:35

Contact information

In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...