VIENNA, 17 September 2012 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, today criticised a criminal conviction of Robert Frycz, the editor of Antykomor.pl website, for insulting the President of Poland, and called for decriminalization of defamation in the country.
“In a modern democracy criminal sanctions for insulting heads of state are out of place, especially since the European Court of Human Rights has for decades overturned such verdicts,” said Mijatović.
Frycz was found guilty and sentenced to ten months of community services for publishing satirical materials about President Komorowski, in a closed court trial by the Piotrkow District Court last Friday.
“Due to the nature of their work, public officials must tolerate a greater degree of criticism and satirical remarks than ordinary individuals,” Mijatović said. “Despite growing international recognition that people should not be criminally prosecuted for defamation, the Polish Constitutional Court in 2011 maintained Article 135 of the Criminal Code under which Frycz was sentenced.”
Mijatović supports a civil society campaign against criminal defamation and has repeatedly called on the Polish authorities to review the relevant provisions of the Criminal Code.
“I hope that a second instance court will revise this sentence,” she said. “I call on the Polish authorities to take immediate steps to decriminalize defamation completely.”