Political crime in Polish systemic conditions in the 20th century


Political offences are a specific ‘set’ of prohibited acts listed by the legislator, undertaken
by the perpetrator in specific political and normative conditions, and determined by the shape
of the state’s political system. The legislator in the Penal Code of 1932, 1969 and 1997, as
well as numerous non-code criminal law acts (e.g. in 1928, 1934, in the years 1944–1946),
distinguished acts directed against a state that have features of criminal acts of a political
nature. In the period of the Second Polish Republic, despite changes to systemic conditions in
1926, the state's attitude towards these prohibited acts have yet to be uniformly assessed. The
first normative act defining the perpetrator's action against the state was the Regulation of the
President of the Republic of Poland against espionage of 1928. After 1944/1945, the term
‘counter-revolutionary crime’ emerged in the doctrine of communist criminal law. Counter-
revolutionary action was explicitly treated as a political crime. Systemic changes in 1956
significantly modified the interpretation of this act prohibited by law enforcement and judicial
authorities, but until 1989, the legal status set out in the Criminal Code of 1969 remained.
After 1956, the interpretation of political provenance changed, however the code solutions
introduced in the system remained in force. Yet, after the turn of 1989, in the new normative
and political reality it was necessary to refer the legislator to acts (political) committed under
the previous system, consistent with the legal norms of that time but classified in new legal
and political circumstances as crimes committed on behalf of state organs or as state crimes.
Similarly, it turned out that the legislator had to respond to acts committed in the previous
system and considered illegal; however, after the system was changed in 1989, they were
already treated as acts directed towards the Polish state. In the Penal Code of 1997, the catalog
of acts directed against the state, which are described as political crimes, was stipulated in
articles 127–137.

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