One of the last decisions of President Andrzej Duda during this term was the pardon of Jan Śpiewak, a Warsaw social activist convicted of defamation. He reported this in a unique way – the deputy head of the Chancellery of the President Paweł Mucha at a briefing in front of the Presidential Palace.
Why special? Because all other decisions to apply the law of grace are not made public. Not only is information about the convicted person (e.g. when he was convicted, how many years he served) who asks for grace, but even the very fact that such an application was received by the Law Firm. This was the case, for example, with pardon requests directed by Marek Falenta, convicted of the wiretapping scandal. The office of Andrzej Duda refused to provide information, although at that time the court which reviewed the applications – responded to journalists.
Behind the screen of mystery
The Chancellery of the President relies on two arguments: that the law of grace is the prerogative of the head of state arising from the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, and therefore no one can control it, and that the question about the pardoned is not public information, because it is limited by, among others protection of private life.
This is an exaggerated translation – say the racists – pointing out that the judgments in Poland are public.
“Pursuant to administrative court rulings, pardon proceedings are of a special nature. It concerns an individual case of a private person. The publicity of these proceedings, both at the stage of judicial and prosecutor’s activities as well as at the stage of proceedings before the President of the Republic of Poland, is limited even in relation to the parties to the proceedings” – corresponds to the “Rz” Chancellery of the President.
Andrzej Duda often used grace, guided by “humanitarian considerations” (e.g. poor health) – as against a convict for fraud (decision of 19 May) or for material falsehood (from March 23). In turn, on March 14, the president pardoned as many as seven people – this is a record – including conviction for bodily injury (the grace concerned payment for a social purpose) and a drunk cyclist a repeat offender. And also – and this is a rarity – a person convicted of raping a minor relative.
“The President of the Republic of Poland, when deciding to exercise the right of grace, had in mind the considerations of rationality and purposefulness, in particular the fact of reconciliation of the convict with the victims, compensation for the harm done and current exemplary behavior” – we read in the enigmatic justification of the motives. The act of grace concerned the lifting of the prohibition on contacting and approaching victims.
More in Rzeczpospolita.