Justice Min: ‘Children’s well-being more important than offender’s interests’

During a parliamentary assembly at the Polish lower house on Wednesday, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro presented a government revision to Polish criminal law, introducing higher sentences for child abusers.

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As Minister Ziobro argued, the changes are to ensure two functions of criminal law - preventing and penalizing. “In the relation between the victim and the abuser there must not be any doubt about whose well-being is more important,” Mr Ziobro said.

He also underlined that fighting crime is one of the main responsibilities of the state. “Guaranteeing citizens’ safety, particularly to those most vulnerable and exposed to criminals is our fundamental duty,” the Justice Minister added.

In Minister Ziobro’s opinion, the penal code needs to be properly severe. “Criminal law has to deter possible offenders from breaking the law,” Mr Ziobro argued.

Up to 30 years in prison

One of the most important changes to criminal law will include lifting the maximum penalty for child sex abusers from 15 and 25 years, which depends on the category of crime, to 30 years of prison in every such case.

“The penal code has to stand strongly on the side of the child, who has been raped, that is why we wish to abolish the statute of limitations in such criminal cases,” Mr Ziobro added.

Another change will include raising the age under which children are protected, namely from 15 to 16.

Minister Ziobro emphasised that one of the government’s aims is to ensure safety for Polish children. In 2018, the government launched a public “peadophile registry” for the most brutal child abusers.

The changes to the penal code were announced shortly after the release of a recent documentary by Tomasz Sekielski “Don’t tell anyone” about cases of child sex abuse conducted by priests.