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Poland Abolishes Anti-Racism Watchdog

Poland’s landslide-elected right-wing government has abolished the national Council Against Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. 

The Law and Justice (PiS) party this week scrapped a public body designed to fight racism and investigate “hate crimes”, citing its inefficiency. Government spokesman Rafal Bochenek told reporters the council’s responsibilities will be taken over by “more efficient” state institutions.

The Council Against Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was set up by the previous government led by the liberal Civic Platform party, who were voted out of office last October after they agreed with the European Union (EU) that the country would take several thousand non-European migrants.

The human rights Ombudsman, and parties opposed to PiS, have widely condemned the government’s abolition of the body as they say hate crimes are increasing in Poland. “It’s shameful. The council is absolutely necessary amid the increasing number of racially motivated attacks and rising xenophobia,” Ombudsman Adam Bodnar told AFP.

“The fears, spread by certain political parties about refugees are feeding into racist comments on the Internet, and this has not been firmly condemned,” he continued.

The Times of Israel reported that Polish prosecutors last launched 1,500 probes into cases of alleged discrimination and racially motivated hate crimes, up from the investigation of 60 such cases in 2009.

Polish politician Katarzyna Lubnauer, of the socially and economically liberal Modern party, said she was “outraged” at the liquidation of the state council. Given increasing reluctance in Poland towards accepting “people of another colour, another race, or who use a language other than Polish”, the MP stressed she believes the institution is ”very much needed”.

Comments below Polish television network TVN’s coverage of the story were broadly supportive of the move, with one person writing “‘Anti-racism council liquidated’ – rightly so, looking at what’s happening in Germany or France”, seemingly referring to the problems those European countries are facing as a result of having large numbers of non-European migrants.

Civic Platform politician Rafal Grupiński claimed that scrapping the anti-racism body, which was established in 2013 by then Prime Minister of Poland, current European Council President Donald Tusk, is “contrary to the rules of the European Union”.

The Law and Justice (PiS) party was elected in a major landslide victory in December that returned Poland’s first single-party government since the end of Communism. Although their ascent to power has left minority left-wing activists angered, and has triggered a series of protests by those who claim that the recently elected government lack democratic legitimacy, the party has pressed on with a programme of changes, including turning the nation’s back on the EU migrant resettlement programme 

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