The Law and Justice, a right-wing party in Poland, called upon its supporters to participate in a Thursday protest in defense of freedom of speech, media and democracy against the Civic Coalition, which is the current ruling political alliance in Poland. Since taking power in late 2023, the Civic Coalition and Law and Justice have clashed over repeated efforts to institute reforms.
The Law and Justice claimed that the Civic Coalition has violated Polish law and took over public media. During Law and Justice’s eight-year tenure as ruling party, it was also accused of breaking laws and undermining democracy.
Law and Justice MP Zbigniew Kuźmiuk claimed that the resolutions proposed by the Civic Coalition are enough to break the law and liquidate the social programs introduced by the Law and Justice. Moreover, Law and Justice asserted that the actions taken against the media and public life institutions are illegal, that the law has been broken and that democracy has been undermined.
In late December 2023, Poland’s Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz ordered the liquidation of three prominent state media companies – television network Telewizja Polska (TVP), national radio broadcaster Polskie Radio and news agency Polska Agencja Prasowa (PAP). Earlier in December, President Andrzej Duda vetoed the 2024 budget bill, rejecting its allocation of 3 billion zloty in funding for media until reforms are implemented. The president cited constitutional violations and the need for comprehensive repairs and legal reforms within the public media sector as reasons for his veto.
On Thursday, many people gathered to protest against the Civic Coalition. According to Article 21 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. Furthermore, article 11 of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights stipulates that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests. The article 57 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland also stipulates that the freedom of peaceful assembly and participation in such assemblies shall be ensured to everyone.