How about Some Restorative Justice for Post-Communist Societies?

The recent effort to reform the Polish judiciary has come under fire as an assault on democracy and is loudly condemned by the Western media. In the campaign against the reforms, no arguments for reforms were presented and no serious discussion of the root causes of the problem emerged. Therefore, it is important to consider all viewpoints.

First, it shall be noted that the Polish judiciary to this day operates under the cloud of Stalinism. Not only its structure derives from those dark days but also the majority of people administering justice have close ties to Stalinist elites, their heirs, and collaborators. The allegedly independent Poland since 1989 has been unable to assure accountability for communist crimes. To this day, successors of Stalinism and Martial Law control the Polish judiciary.

People who are quick to condemn the Polish “undemocratic” reforms should study the case of Adam Slomka, an activist of the Solidarity Movement first persecuted by the Martial Law judges, and next persecuted in the post-1989 Poland by the same judges for demanding justice for Martial Law crimes. His story explains why restorative justice must be implemented in Poland. After all, about seven hundred judges and one thousand prosecutors of the Jaruzelski junta to this day administer justice in Poland.

The first ever serious attempt to reform the judiciary in order to assure basic sense of justice was undertaken only in July 2017 by the government of Prime Minister Beata Szydło with the strong support from the public. The proposed legislation met European standards and did not violate the Polish Constitution. However, it met with robust organized resistance instigated by Martial Law security forces. The protests ultimately forced President Andrzej Duda to veto two out of three judiciary reform bills that passed the Parliament.

The Supreme Court made particularly egregious contribution to the destruction of any sense of justice in Poland, both in terms of human suffering and economic injustice by blocking the lustration process and shielding judges and prosecutors from the Stalinist period and their Martial Law successors, from facing justice. Portraits of Stalinist judges who committed serious crimes against humanity are on display in the hallways of the Supreme Court for their successors to follow, and they do. They protect interests of their clique at the expense of the people.

Today, former KGB-trained intelligence officers fight against judiciary reform by launching a massive disinformation campaign against the reform of the court system, their last vestige of power. With media support, they led street protests under the slogan of defending democracy. Professional provocateurs, agents from defunct communist intelligence services, and activists from NGOs linked to Moscow, openly called for the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Szydło, and made death threats against chairman of the governing Law and Justice Party (L&J) Jarosław Kaczyński. They appealed to the public to defend their freedoms allegedly endangered by Kaczyński, the greatest adversary of the former communists. Kaczynski never bowed to the Soviet power and never opted for collaboration. He symbolizes the iron will to eradicate communism with all its vestiges and derivatives, and restore elementary sense of justice in the deeply harmed Polish society.

The 2015 elections gave the absolute majority to the non-communists for the first time since WWII. In accordance with their electoral mandate, the L&J shakes up the 80-year-old power structure and pursues greatly overdue restorative justice. The reform of the judiciary should have been implemented back in the early 90s. Unfortunately, because of the 1989 pact with the Walesa faction of the Solidarity, the communists blocked necessary reforms and assured themselves full impunity for the next quarter-century.

The contribution of the justice system to injustice that burdens the Polish society is enormous. For the past 80 years, courts have been dividing the Polish people between those who have rights and those who don’t. Those who fought against Soviet oppression did not have any rights before the communist courts. This rule also applied to their families and descendants for decades afterward. Such attitudes were never eradicated and breed grave injustice to this day.

Military prosecutors linked to communist intelligence services oversaw the first investigation of the 2010 Smolensk crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski. The same prosecutors who in 1981 persecuted Solidarity in the name of brotherly alliance with the Soviet Union controlled the investigation of the 2010 Smolensk crash. It was not until 2016 that these Martial Law criminals were finally demoted by the government of Prime Minister Szydło. Their salaries of about 20,000 PZL went down to the average salary of about 2,000 PZL.

In response, they called on the public to disobey the rule of law. With massive backing from the media, the post-communists attempted to block by force the legislative process in the parliament. They terrorized and threaten elected officials, disseminated guidelines how to overthrow the government, attacked individual member of the governing party and their families. They act with impunity knowing that their media and courts will protect them.

The Polish judiciary is so dysfunctional that in defending its vested interests it encourages disobedience and violation of law. Judges lead anti-government protests while the courts protect criminals and punish law enforcement officers who bring criminals to justice. All major crimes, assassinations, and scandals that have been rocking Poland for the past decades, such as the Marshall’s Affair, Amber Gold, Sowa and Friends, Warsaw Reprivatization, OFE, FOZZ, etc., were covered up and blocked by the compromised judiciary.

Recent protests in defense of democracy are instigated by former apparatchiks of the deadly Jaruzelski regime, including members of the Martial Law security apparatus, who never faced justice for their crimes. They use terror against the democratically elected government to assure themselves further impunity. In a bizarre twist of history, the West hands them the hero’s welcome while the East rejoices.