The government’s drive to subjugate the judicial system and a growing tendency to criminalize defamation are beginning to have an effect on the freedom of expression of independent media outlets. Some courts are now using article 212 of the criminal code, under which journalists can be sentenced to as much as a year in prison for defamation, although the civil code offers citizens all the protection they need if they are defamed. Even if the courts usually content themselves with fining journalists, the use of article 212 encourages self-censorship by the independent media. The Warsaw daily Gazeta Wyborcza continues to be the leading target of government lawsuits.
Partisan discourse and hate speech are still the rule within state-owned media, which have been transformed into government propaganda mouthpieces. Their new directors tolerate neither opposition nor neutrality from employees and fire those who refuse to comply. Many protests have been staged outside the offices of the management of the state-owned TV broadcaster TVP. After one of these protests in February 2019, the TVP evening news programme “Wiadomosci” broadcast video footage and personal details of ten of the demonstrators. TVP also filed a complaint against Polish ombudsman Adam Bodnar, who said its references to Gdansk mayor Pawel Adamowicz amounted to hate speech and implied that this could have encouraged the person who murdered Adamowicz in January 2019.
59 in 2019
28.89 in 2019