REVIEW #8: Freedom of the Press Under Attack in Poland: Self-Censorship, Legal and Political Restrictions

Official censorship existed in Poland from 1944 throughout the whole communist period. It was dissolved in April 1990 – nearly a year after the first partially free election since the World War II. Freedom of speech is one of the major civil rights in Poland, like in every other country of the Western, democratic world. It is guaranteed by Article 14 of the Polish Constitution. In practice, however, since the 2015 double electoral victory (presidential and parliamentary) of the populist and rightist Law and Justice Party (PiS), the Polish government has introduced many measures which have indirectly affected the freedom of speech – including freedom of the press.

As a result, in 2017, Poland plummeted 7 ranks in the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, which was the second year in a row that Poland’s ranking decreased (in 2016 the country fell 29 places in comparison to 2015) (See Figure 1). Figure 1 shows the trend for the last fifteen years: The blue line stands for a number of points received (global score – the scale is ranging from 0 – the best possible score, to 100 – the worst) and the pink line stands for the position of Poland in the comparison with 179 other countries (ranking). A significant decrease of the Poland’s rank occurred already during the previous PiS government, in 2005-07.


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