President: I have decided to sign into law the amendment to the Code of Administrative Proceedings
Today, I reached a decision regarding a law that has been the subject of a lively and vociferous debate in recent months both at home and abroad. Following an in-depth analysis, I have decided to sign into law the amendment to the Code of Administrative Proceedings, adopted by the Sejm and the Senate.
I am convinced that, with my signature, this era of legal chaos ends - an era of re-privatization mafias, uncertainty for millions of Poles, and a lack of respect for the most fundamental rights of citizens of our country. I believe in a state that protects its citizens against injustice.
I am pleased that, despite the heated political disputes that we engage in on a daily basis regarding these changes, important as Polish women and men consider them, we have managed to build a political consensus. No political group opposed the amendment to the KPA, either in the Sejm or in the Senate. This clearly demonstrates how important and expected these legal changes are and that they enjoy broad support within our country.
We must remember that the act implements the ruling of May 2015, in which the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that seeking the annulment
of administrative decisions that constitute the basis for the acquisition of property after lapse of many years, is inconsistent with the Constitution.
In my opinion, this is the end of a state of uncertainty, during which apartments, and real estate acquired in good faith could be seized by means of an ordinary administrative decision after their owner from over 70 years ago was suddenly found. Experience has shown that these owners were often fictitious and that criminal groups were making fortunes at the cost of tens of thousands of people thrown onto the streets.
Anyone born in the wrong place and at the wrong time could be a victim, and re-privatization to restore justice became almost synonymous with injustice and genuine suffering.
In considering the act, I analysed numerous counterarguments. I understand them, and I welcome the fact that the new law does not close the door to compensation for former owners, who are still entitled to civil proceedings.
I have also familiarized myself with appeals from abroad. Their authors often argued that the new law was aimed at a specific group - Jews who survived the Holocaust.
I unequivocally reject this type of rhetoric with every fibre of my being – not only as the President of the Republic of Poland, but as a person who, not least for personal reasons, has never treated matters pertaining to the Holocaust with indifference. I am opposed to associating this act with the Holocaust. Poland is a guardian of the memory of the victims of German crimes against Jews, and we will not allow the Holocaust to be instrumentalized for current political purposes. We will continue to remind the world that every second victim of the Holocaust was a Polish citizen and that our government-in-exile did much more than any other to counteract the atrocities committed during the Holocaust.
I stress the fact that 6 million citizens of the Republic of Poland died during World War II. Almost every Polish family lost a loved one, and communist expropriations and nationalizations, especially during the late 1940s, affected all citizens, regardless of nationality and religion.
This property was later rebuilt, restored and maintained for decades with public funds, whereas German perpetrators of the war did not pay Poland for our enormous material losses, and not a single Western country took part in rebuilding our country, which was destroyed by the Germans.
The act signed does not contain anything that would be alien to the legislation of the countries in which politicians and organizations protested against it. The periods after which an administrative decision cannot be challenged are often much shorter than in Poland, where 30 years were sufficient to recover or seize property. These are the periods that coincide with the long-standing principle of acquisitive prescription, even in bad faith, that has existed in Polish law for a long time.
In Poland binding is the law which is passed by the Polish Parliament and approved by the president, who has been elected by a majority of citizens. In performing the duties of the office entrusted to me by my compatriots, I am guided solely by the good of the Republic of Poland, its citizens, and our constitutional order.
President of the Republic of Poland