Open Letter in Support of Professor Wojciech Sadurski
Two months ago Armin von Bogdandy and Luke Dimitrios Spieker highlighted the plight of our colleague Wojciech Sadurski, a distinguished professor of law at the Universities of Sydney and Warsaw, and formerly at the European University Institute in Florence. Professor Sadurski finds himself facing an array of charges and lawsuits in Poland for his outspoken criticism of the governing party, PiS. As von Bogdandy and Spieker pointed out, such attempts to silence critics are not solely a matter of Polish law but also of European Union law and European human rights law, particularly in the context of the ongoing Article 7 TEU procedure against Poland. But matters have continued to worsen since that time for Sadurski, who has been targeted by no less than three sets of legal proceedings aimed at silencing him and punishing him for speaking out. We write to draw attention to the legal harassment of Professor Sadurski by the Polish government and its allies, to the right of academics across the European Union to freely speak out and to criticize political leaders, and to publicly express our support for Wojciech Sadurksi.
The background is this: On 10 November 2018 Wojciech Sadurski called upon Polish citizens to boycott a so-called “Independence March” to be held in Warsaw. He tweeted: “If anyone still had any doubts, after the maneuver of the past two days this much should be clear: no honest person should go in a parade of defenders of the White race, who have hidden for a moment their “falangas” [a neo-Nazi symbol] and swastikas, in collusion with an organized criminal group PiS”. On 13 January 2019, shortly after the murder of Gdańsk Mayor Mr Paweł Adamowicz, Sadurski tweeted that a politician was killed after he had been hounded by government media, and stated that no democrat and opposition politician should enter the premises of TVP, a public television station, which he described as a Goebbelsian media company.
These two tweets led to three currently pending cases. The first, a civil suit lodged on 21 January 2019 by PiS and signed by its President, Jarosław Kaczyński, alleged that the personal rights of PiS were affected by characterizing the party as an ‘organised criminal group’. This characterization was also said by PiS to insult thousands of its members. PiS has demanded a public apology through a pinned tweet expressing regret for breaching its good name, payment of a high fine to be donated to a charity, as well as a commitment that he would never again refer to PiS in a similar way. The second tweet led to a criminal case dated 21 January 2019, and to a civil case dated 20 March 2019, both brought by a state-run television TVP. The argument made in these two cases is that the tweet amounts to intentional and deliberate defamation as well as adversely affecting the personal rights of the TV station through its suggestion of a link between the manner of the station’s reporting and the murder of the Mayor. TVP also argues that the tweet would have a negative impact on the TV station’s reputation and on its commercial partners, particularly its advertisers. TVP argues that Sadurski should pay a fine, to be donated to a charity, and should publicly apologise by purchasing an expensive advertisement in a top Polish web portal.
All three cases are currently pending. And while we respect and support the independence of the Polish courts and hope that they will be able to perform their functions freely and without interference, ongoing measures in Poland to undermine the independence of the judiciary and to assert disciplinary political control over the courts create grave cause for concern.
It is clear to any observer with the most elementary knowledge of EU law and the law of the European Convention on Human Rights that the three cases against Professor Sadurski will not survive the scrutiny of the Strasbourg (ECHR) or Luxembourg (EU) courts. What is happening to Wojciech Sadurski is a coordinated harassment campaign by the Polish ruling party against a well-known and respected academic who has clearly struck a nerve with his powerful critique of the situation in his native country.
Does the Polish ruling party really want to continue this futile and expensive campaign of legal harassment through the lengthy procedural routes to the Luxembourg and Strasbourg courts, given the inevitability of further high-profile and authoritative rulings against it? We hope not and we suggest that the rational self-interest of the Polish government should prevail. We call upon PiS to reconsider its position and immediately drop its case against Wojciech Sadurski, and to require TVP, which is financed through public resources, to do the same with its two cases.
We write this letter not only in support of our academic colleague Wojciech Sadurski, but also to make the broader point that any attempt to silence any one of us who writes for and reads publications such as this one is an attempt to repress and silence all of us. Freedom of expression safeguards robust criticism of governmental and political action, and all the more so in a context in which there has been widespread criticism by independent observers of the actions of the national authorities to undermine the rule of law. We write today to speak out and to stand up for that freedom.
To co-sign this open letter, please leave a comment with your name and affiliation!
Floyd Abrams, Senior Counsel Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP and Yale Law School
Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University
Alberto Alemanno, HEC Paris
Philip Alston, New York University
Jack M. Balkin, Yale Law School
Petra Bárd, Central European University
Christine Bell, University of Edinburgh
Bojan Bugaric, Professor of Law, Department of law, Sheffield University
Gráinne de Búrca, New York University
Daniela Caruso, Boston University
Sujit Choudhry, WZB Social Science Center, Center for Global Constitutionalism, Berlin
Paul Craig, University of Oxford
Deirdre Curtin, Professor of European Law, European University Institute Florence
Tom Gerald Daly, MLS Fellow, Melbourne Law School
Bruno De Witte, Professor of European Union law, Maastricht University
Oran Doyle, Trinity College Dublin
Cynthia Estlund, New York University
Owen Fiss, Yale Law School
Janneke Gerards, Professor of Fundamental Rights Law, Utrecht University
Laurence Gormley, University of Groningen
Samuel Issacharoff, New York University
Gábor Halmai, European University Institute
Aileen Kavanagh, Oxford University
R. Daniel Kelemen, Professor of Political Science and Law, Rutgers University
David Kenny, Assistant Professor Law, Trinity College Dublin
Tarun Khaitan, Associate Professor, University of Oxford/University of Melbourne
David Kinley, Professor of Human Rights Law, Sydney Law School
Claire Kilpatrick, Professor of International and European Labour and Social Law, Dean of Graduate Studies, European University Institute,Florence, Italy
Dimitry Kochenov, University of Groningen
Tomasz Koncewicz, University of Gdańsk
Kriszta Kovács, ELTE/WZB Berlin
Martin Krygier, Gordon Samuels Professor of Law and Social Theory, University of New South Wales
Mattias Kumm, Professor for Global Public Law, WZB Berlin & Humboldt University, Inge Rennert Professor of Law New York University
Christine Landfried, University of Hamburg
Rick Lawson, University of Leiden
Brian Leiter, Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence, Director, Center for Law, Philosophy & Human Values, University of Chicago
Susanna Mancini, Full Professor and Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law, University of Bologna
Daniel Markovits, Guido Calabresi Professor of Law, Founding Director, Center for the Study of Private Law, Yale Law School
Frank Michelman, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Emeritus Harvard University
John Morijn, University of Groningen
Jan-Werner Mueller, Professor, Princeton University
Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Professor of International Relations, University of Oxford
Gianluigi Palombella, Professor of Applied Legal Theory and Philosophy of Law, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa
Laurent Pech, Middlesex University
Vlad Perju, Professor, Boston College Law School
Richard H. Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU School of Law
Gianfranco Poggi, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Virginia
Robert Post, Sterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Judith Resnik, Yale Law School
Susan Rose-Ackerman, Henry R. Luce Professor of Law, Emeritus, and Professorial Lecturer,Yale Law School
Michel Rosenfeld, University Professor of Law and Comparative Democracy, Justice Sydney L. Robins Professor of Human Rights, Cardozo Law School
Ruth Rubio Marin, University of Sevilla and European University Institute, Florence
Ben Saul, Challis Chair of International Law, University of Sydney and Chair of Australian Studies, Harvard University
Joanne Scott, Professor of European Union Law, European University Institute, Florence, Italy
Kim Lane Scheppele, Princeton University
Michael Sevel, Senior Lecturer in Jurisprudence, Sydney Law School
Maximilian Steinbeis, Verfassungsblog
Alec Stone Sweet, Centennial Professor of Law, National University of Singapore
John Tasioulas, Director, Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy, and Law, the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London
Gábor Attila Tóth, Humboldt University Berlin
Antoine Vauchez, Professor, Université de Paris 1-Sorbonne
Jeremy Waldron, New York University
Neil Walker, Edinburgh Law School
Kevin Walton, Director of the Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence, University of Sydney
Stephen Weatherill, Jacques Delors Professor of European Law Somerville College and Law Faculty University of Oxford
Jan Wouters, University of Leuven
Samuel Moyn, Yale University
Prof. emeritus University of Warsaw, Poland
John J Cronin,alumnus EUI
Henri de Waele, Radboud University Nijmegen/University of Antwerp
Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
Eva Julia Lohse, Lehrstuhl für Öffentliches Recht, Europarecht und Rechtsvergleichung, Universität Bayreuth
Raul Sanchez Urribarri, La Trobe University, Melbourne
Darinka Piqani, Leiden University
I fully support Prof Sadurski.
Adam Shinar, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya
Xavier Arbos Marin, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Barcelona
Tove H. Malloy, Professor Europa-Universität Flensburg
I agree with the content of the open letter, and condemn the actions directed at Prof Sadursku.
Anna Katharina Mangold, Europa-Universität Flensburg
Steffen Ganghof, University of Potsdam
John Parkinson, Professor of Social & Political Philosophy, Maastricht
Massimo Fichera, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki
Radosveta Vassileva, UCL
Ming-Sung Kuo, University of Warwick School of Law
You stand up for the freedom of Sadurksi’s excessive hate speech!
Michael Waibel, University of Cambridge
I would like to sign the letter supporting prof. Sadurski. Prof. Argelia Queralt-Jiménez, University of Barcelon
Adam Krzywoń, Constitutional Law Departement, University of Warsaw
Eduardo Vírgala-Foruria, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of the Basque Country, Spain
Susana de la Sierra, LL.M. (Bayreuth), Ph.D. (EUI, Florence), University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain
Ioanna Tourkochoriti, Lecturer Above the Bar, School of Law NUI Galway
José Luis Martí, Associate Professor of Legal Philosophy at Pompeu Fabra University (Spain)
Liam Murphy, New York University
What is happening is indeed a coordinated harassment campaign by the Polish ruling party against Wojciech Sadurski.
Visiting Professor School of Law Middlesex University London, former Head of the Secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs & Human Rights, Council of Europe,Strasbourg
przepisy o karaniu osób za zniewagę, czy zniesławienie art. 212 i nst. k.k. obowiązują w Polskiej procedurze od lat. I nawet nowy kodeks karny, który wszedł w życie po obaleniu komunizmu w Polsce z tych przepisów nie zrezygnował. Co więcej wiele osób, w tym dziennikarz, została prawomocnie skazanych na ich podstawie i to nie tylko za obrażanie PIS, ale również Platformy Obywatelskiej (kolegów prof. Sadurskiego), PSL, czy SLD.
Ale proszę się nie obawiać o losy Pana profesora. Dzięki bowiem Sądowi Najwyższemu orzekającemu przeciwko Jarosławowi Kaczyńskiemu powstała praktyka, która zmusi sądy do uniewinnienia Pana profesora.
Pan Jarosław Kaczyński w jednej z wypowiedzi w programie Moniki Olejnik nazwał SLD organizacją przestępczą, stwierdził, że to udowodni i partię tę zdelegalizuje.
Wypowiedzią tą poczuł się obrażony jeden z działaczy SLD, który nigdy nie uważał siebie za przestępcę i członka grupy przestępczej czy mafii. Wytoczył więc on powództwo Jarosławowi Kaczyńskiemu o naruszenie dóbr osobistych. Sprawa ta trafiła do Sądu Najwyższego i s.s.n. Iwona Koper uznała, że członków SLD jest tak dużo, że są mało identyfikowalni. Jeżeli nie można zidentyfikować kogoś w ramach przynależności do grupy, to nie można go obrazić, lżyc zbiorowość do której należy. Nadto sama obraza musi być obiektywna a nie subiektywna.
Dlatego też zgodnie z twierdzeniem s.s.n. Iwony Koper lżąc PIS, jako organizację falangistów, antysemitów, nazistów, czy innych prawicowych zbrodniarzy nie można obrazić jego członków, a więc prowadzone w tej kwestii przeciwko prof. Sadurskiemu sprawy należy umorzyć.
partner zarządzający Kancelarii Instytutu Praktyki Prawniczej
Jernej Letnar Černič, Associate Professor of Constitutional and Human Rights Law, New university, Faculty of Government and European Studies, Slovenia.
Matej Avbelj, New University, Slovenia
Violeta Besirevic,Union University Law School Belgrade & CEU,CELAB
Full support for professor Sadurski
Faculty of Law
University of Ottawa
Matthias Goldmann, Goethe University Frankfurt a. M.
Marie-Laure Basilien-Gainche, Professor of Lax, University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, Honorarium member of the Institut Universitaire de France
Sébastien Platon, Professor of Public Law, University of Bordeaux
Saša Zagorc, University of Ljubljana
Jurij Toplak, University of Maribor and Alma Mater Europaea
You are biased. What is happening actually is a harassment of the Polish government by Prof. Sadurski, who attacks the PIS party.
Everybody knows in Poland that Prof. Sadurski is a hajer. https://dorzeczy.pl/kraj/83698/Profesor-hejter.html
Roxana Vornicu, Fellow, Centre for Good Governance Studies, Babes Bolyay University Cluj-Napoca, Romania
I support Professor Sadurski’s freedom of speech!
Lilian Tsourdi, University of Oxford
Tom Theuns, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Professor of Law and R. Gordon Butler Scholar in International Law
I would like to support prof Sadurski
Professor in Law and Globalisation
University of Helsinki
Kai Purnhagen, Wageningen University and Erasmus University of Rotterdam
George A. Hay
Charles Frank Reavis Sr. Professor of Law and Professor of Economics
Board of Governors Professor of Law and Philosophy