NEW YORK—Polish president Andrzej Duda’s announcement that he will sign into law a bill that would criminalize certain language around Poland’s role in the Holocaust represents a deeply alarming attack on free speech, and is part of a broader trend of crackdowns on free expression in a country with a proud democratic tradition, PEN America said in a statement today.

The draft law would prohibit the use of the phrase “Polish death camp” and make it illegal to speak of complicity by “the Polish nation” or “the Republic of Poland” in the Holocaust.  President Duda’s right-wing party has pushed the bill through, despite outspoken condemnation from Israeli leaders and international organizations including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem.  
“Outlawing speech is the work of authoritarian governments, and not in keeping with the democratic values Poland has long stood for, but which are increasingly disregarded by its government,” said Summer Lopez, Senior Director of Free Expression Programs.  “This law would silence anyone wishing to engage in open discussion, journalistic reporting, or academic debate about a complicated and devastating period in history. It is precisely the wrong approach to the complex questions of historical memory and an unquestionable assault on freedom of speech in Poland today.”  


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. 


Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator:, 646-981-0685