Lustration in Poland
refers to the policy of limiting the participation of former communists
, and especially informants of the communist secret police
(from the years 1944-1990), in the successor governments
or even in civil service
The first lustration statue, passed by the Polish Sejm
in 1992, has been declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Tribunal of the Republic of Poland
Several other projects have been submitted and reviewed by a dedicated commission, resulting in a new law passed in 1996.
In the years 1997-2007 lustration was dealt with by the office of Public Interest Spokesman (Rzecznik Interesu Publicznego
) who analyzed lustration declarations and could initiate further proceedings, including submitting a request to the courts to initiate a legal lustration proceeding.
On 18 December 2006 Polish law
regulating Institute of National Remembrance
(pol. Instytut Pamięci Narodowej - IPN) was changed and came into effect on 15 March 2007. This change gave IPN new lustration
powers . The first Polish lustration laws were adopted in 1997; only since 2007 do they officially involve IPN. IPN has now replaced the old Polish lustration institution, the Public Interest Spokesman. According to the revised Chapter 5a of the Act of 18 December 1998 on the Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (Ustawa z dnia 18 grudnia 1998 r. o Instytucie Pamięci Narodowej - Komisji Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu
), the Lustration
bureau of the Institute of National Remembrance performs the following functions:
- maintains the register of lustration statements;
- analyses lustration statements and collects information necessary for its correct assessment;
- prepares lustration procedures;
- notifies the respective bodies about non-performance by non-judicial bodies of obligations in accordance with this Law;
- prepares and publishes catalogues of documents containing personal data:
- a) produced by this individual (or with their participation) in connection with their activities as a secret informant
- b) from the content of which it follows that the relevant individual was regarded by security services as a secret informer or operational assistant collecting information.
Lustration by IPN was to be obligatory for 53 categories of people born before August 1st, 1972 and holding positions of significant public responsibility, including lawyers, public notaries, attorneys, journalists and academic workers. However, key articles of that law were judged unconstitutional by Poland's Constitutional Court or Constitutional Tribunal of the Republic of Poland on May 11, 2007, making the role of IPN unclear and putting the whole process into question. Most importantly, the part of the law that would have required about 700,000 people in the above 53 categories to submit declarations on whether they had spied for the secret services has been thrown out. . With this key change, the role of IPN in the lustration process is at present highly unclear. Some influential opinionmakers and politicians in Poland are now declaring that, since the whole lustration process in the old format is essentially over, the secret police archives should simply be thrown open. Others oppose such a move, arguing that the release of all of the personal and confidential information contained in the files would cause unacceptable harm to innocent people .
- Mark S. Ellis, Purging the past: The Current State of Lustration Laws in the Former Communist Bloc (pdf), Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 59, No. 4, Accountability for International Crimes and Serious Violations of Fundamental Human Rights (Autumn, 1996), pp. 181-196], covering a dozen former Communist countries in 1996
- "Explaining Lustration in Eastern Europe: 'A Post-communist politics approach'", Szczerbiak, Aleks, Brigid Fowler and Kieran Williams. SEI Working Paper No 62.
- Lavinia Stan, "Transition, Justice and Transitional Justice in Poland," Studia Politica, Vol. 6, No. 2 (July 2006), pp. 257-284.
- Lavinia Stan, "The Politics of Memory in Poland: Lustration, File Access and Court Proceedings," Studies in Post-Communism Occasional Paper No. 10 (April 2005).