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Communist crime (Polish: zbrodnia komunistyczna) is a concept used in Polish law and by the Foundation for the Investigation of Communist Crimes.

In Poland a communist crime is an action of a functionary of a communist state carried out between 17 September 1939 and 31 December 1989; that action being either repressing or otherwise directly violating human rights of an individual or a group, or involving other crimes as defined by Polish criminal law of that time. The concept also covers several other behaviours, such as falsification of documents and revealing them with intent to cause damage to people mentioned in them.[1] The concept was introduced in 1998 and revised several times.[2] The concept was designed to facilitate studies and prosecution of events when people in authority committed crimes against Polish citizens or nation,[3] conceptually similar to the concept of a Nazi crime.[4]

A functionary of a communist state is defined as a public official and people who received legal protection similar to public officials, particularly government officials and leaders of the communist party.[5] The functionaries involved would most likely work for Polish intelligence, security service and other internal affairs (particularly censorship and religious affairs) departments. Particular organizations named as examples include Ministry of Public Security of Poland, Służba Bezpieczeństwa and Główny Zarząd Informacji Wojska Polskiego.[6] The communist crime could have also been committed by a member of foreign civil or military services similar to the Polish ones[7] (for example, KGB, NKVD or Stasi).

The statute of limitations begins on 1 August 1990 and runs for 40 years in case of murders and 30 years for other crimes.[8] Communist crimes that are recognized by international law as crimes against humanity, crimes against peace or war crimes are not affected by statute of limitations in Poland.[8] Those crimes are also not affected by amnesty or abolition decrees issued before 7 December 1989.[9]

This concept has replaced the term previously used in Polish law for similar issues, stalinist crime (zbrodnia stalinowska),[4] just as the concept of a Nazi crime has replaced that of the hitlerite crime; both (stalinist and hitlerite first defined in Polish legislation in 1991).[10]

While drafting the concept of the communist crime, Polish legislators specifically discarded the notion that communist crime is equal to a Nazi crime, or that the legislation of the communist crime can be based on that of the Nazi crime (already defined in legislation of 31 August 1944), as while similar on some levels they are different enough on others to make analogies unacceptable.[4]

Communist crimes are primarily investigated by the Institute of National Remembrance, a special research institute with prosecution powers created by the same legislation that defined the concept of the communist crime in 1998.

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References

  1. ^ Ustawa z dnia 18 grudnia 1998 r. o Instytucie Pamięci Narodowej - Komisji Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi PolskiemuPDF (299 KB). Art. 2.1. . Retrieved as of 8 May 2007.
  2. ^ Ustawa.., see headings of document for list of legal acts published in Dziennik Ustaw modyfing the original document
  3. ^ It should be noted that the concept of a communist crime is also applicable if the victim was a non-Polish citizen but he was wronged on a Polish territory.
  4. ^ a b c (Polish) Genowefa Rajman, ZBRODNIE KOMUNISTYCZNE W KONCEPCJI POLSKIEGO PRAWA KARNEGO, Wojskowy Przegląd Prawniczy, Number 1 z 2006 r.
  5. ^ Ustawa.., Art. 2.2.
  6. ^ Ustawa.., Art. 5.1.
  7. ^ Ustawa.., Art. 5.2.
  8. ^ a b Ustawa.., Art. 4.1.
  9. ^ Ustawa.., Art. 4.3.
  10. ^ Witold Kulesza, Stenogram 32 posiedzenia Senatu RP. Retrieved on 8 May 2007
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