The European Parliament has voted to lift the immunity of four of Poland’s governing party’s MEPs who have been accused of violating hate crime laws for endorsing an election advert that warned of the dangers of mass immigration.
Beata Kempa, Beata Mazurek, Patryk Jaki, and Tomasz Poreba could now face charges in their homeland for racially aggravated offenses after they retweeted and liked a Law and Justice (PiS) election video on social media ahead of local elections in 2018.
Patryk Jaki speaking during the local government election in 2018. (EPA-EFE/Pawel Supernak POLAND OUT)
The video warned of the threats that an influx of illegal immigrants to Europe could cause and linked “enclaves of Muslim refugees” with sexual assaults and violent attacks.
It also suggested that a government formed by the Civic Coalition (KO), the largest opposition grouping, would lead to an influx of illegal immigration that would make residents “afraid to go out on the streets after dark.”
Accusations against the quartet were filed by Rafal Gawel, a left-wing Polish activist, who filed a subsidiary indictment in November 2021 after the prosecutor’s office twice dismissed his original claims as unfounded.
Rafał Gaweł is said to be the first Pole to be given political asylum since the fall of communism. Photograph: Czarek Sokołowski/AP
Gawel, who was convicted of embezzlement in Poland in 2019 and is wanted by the Polish police, subsequently obtained asylum in Norway, claiming that he was the victim of a politicized justice system.
“I am the first Pole who managed to win asylum since communist times,” Gawel told the Associated Press over the phone from Norway.
“I am sure I have saved my life, because if I had gone to prison in Poland, I couldn’t have expected any good future,” he said. “I was hated by the government.”
Thereafter, Edyta Snastin-Jurkun, a Warsaw court judge, submitted a request to the European Parliament to waive the immunities of the four MEPs.
Gilles Lebreton, an MEP and rapporteur in the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, whose task is to give opinions on such applications, stated that it was politically motivated and recommended its rejection.
On Tuesday, however, the Legal Affairs Committee voted in favor of the proposal to waive their immunity, and the European Parliament backed its stance on removing immunity for the four MEPs so they could stand trial in Poland.
Beata Mazurek, commenting on the ruling, said later on Thursday:
“We are neither surprised nor shocked by this decision - we predicted that this would happen, taking into account what is occurring in this parliament.
“We are moving on, continuing our work, we are not limited in any way,” she added. “We will certainly not succumb to such pressure and become intimidated or limited in our political activities.”
Patryk Jaki exclaimed on X that "The EP has just joyfully stripped me of my immunity for liking a spot on Twitter that showed real scenes of violence by illegal migrants in Europe."
"They call it 'hate speech'...This is what the Brave New World of the "Democratic Camp" is supposed to look like. We would like to thank everyone who supported this 'democracy'..."