Polish Lawmakers Pass Law Restricting Rallies

Polish lawmakers pass law restricting rallies

WARSAW, , (Pakistan Point News - APP - 14th Dec, 2016 ) - Poland's conservative populist-dominated parliament has passed a law restricting public meetings which has been slammed by the opposition as being anti-democratic, media reports said Wednesday. The legislation, passed late on Tuesday, introduces the concept of "periodic meetings" for rallies organised repeatedly in the same place and on the same date, giving such gatherings priority over other meetings.

Unrelated meetings must take place at least 100 metres (yards) away from any meeting designated "periodic". The ruling rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) party said the law would boost the security of participants at all gatherings by preventing clashes. But opposition lawmakers said the rules prevented "street dialogue" and restricted freedom of speech. They claim the law will allow PiS to to organise a monthly meeting, protected from counter-protests, to commemorate the 2010 Smolensk plane crash.

Ninety-six people died including president Lech Kaczynski, the twin brother of PiS head Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Last Saturday, the 80th such ceremony outside the presidential palace in Warsaw was slightly disturbed by an opposition rally. The bill that was ultimately adopted did however shed provisions that would have given priority to rallies organised by the state and religious organisations.