Ordo Iuris lawyers have taken legal action against the film director Agnieszka Holland and the leftist MP Anna Maria Żukowska. They have publicly slandered the Institute, claiming its actions are “fascist”. According to Ordo Iuris, the stigmatising language used by celebrities and leftist activists not only affects the reputation of the Institute, but also leads to the promotion of hatred and social tensions.
Agnieszka Holland’s case is based on her interview for the portal Onet.pl. The film director falsely accused the Institute of introducing “fascist laws”. For her words directly associating the Foundation with great leftist authoritarianisms and national-socialist totalitarianism, Ordo Iuris demands an apology published on the portal where the interview was issued. The Institute also demands that the interview is supplemented with information that Agnieszka Holland’s statements have been considered slanderous, and that her apology is also published in one of the Polish national daily newspapers.
Another lawsuit has been filed against the leftist MP Anna Maria Żukowska. During a demonstration in front of the seat of the Institute, the activist made several false accusations against the Polish right-wing, the Church and Ordo Iuris, which she referred to as an “institute of fascist culture”. She also committed serious damage to the Foundation’s reputation on social media portals, where she accused Ordo Iuris of “adopting a policy of hatred and exclusion” and “interfering with local governments” in order to allegedly introduce discriminatory laws. The Institute demands that Anna Maria Żukowska makes a statement including an apology. Moreover, Ordo Iuris demands an apology published on Twitter and Facebook as well as compensation.
“The statements by Agnieszka Holland and Anna Maria Żukowska have clearly violated the good name of the Institute. Their aim was to undermine the reputation and credibility of Ordo Iuris by disseminating false and slanderous statements about the Foundation’s activities. The Institute would like to emphasise that in response to all untrue information presenting its activities in a false light, legal action will be taken,” said attorney Maciej Kryczka from the Ordo Iuris Litigation Center.
As a legal entity, the Institute is entitled to personal rights, in particular a good name and scientific reputation. Therefore, pursuant to relevant regulations, the Foundation can take advantage of legal instruments which can be used to fight manipulation or lies about itself. One such instrument is a defamation suit. Pursuant to the provisions of the Civil Code, the plaintiff only has to prove the existence of violated personal right and the fact of its violation. This means that in the case of a defamation suit, it is the defendant’s duty to demonstrate that her words were true, or at least that the opinions she professed or the criticism she expressed were based on a thorough analysis and reliable sources. An opinion or criticism violates personal rights when its form or content exceeds the socially accepted norms established by the principles of social interaction and the social aim of the criticism. As the Supreme Court of Poland has emphasised in a number of judgments, only matter-of-fact, reliable criticism truly serves the public good.
Considering the statutory objectives and history of the Institute, it is a clear abuse to associate individual projects or all the activities of Ordo Iuris with the promotion, implementation or pursuit of one of the ideologies forbidden by the constitution. The subject of the Foundation’s statutory activity is the affirmation of human dignity, pronounced in the constitution as a supra-positive source of freedom and human rights that are of an inherent, inalienable and inviolable nature (Article 30 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland). In its activities, the Institute observes and upholds all rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Basic Law.
“The sense of lack of any responsibility for speech lies at the root of the degrading public debate and polarity which, by using the language of emotions and phobias, leads directly to violence. The results can be seen in the streets of Polish cities, where pro-life volunteers have been attacked. In this situation it is imperative to apply and prove the effectiveness of legal remedies to protect the good name and truth as universal standards of public debate and criticism formulated therein. The inactivity of subsequent victims of aggressive stigmatisation and false accusations would lead to an escalation of the aggression of left-wing activists,” emphasised attorney Jerzy Kwaśniewski, President of Ordo Iuris.
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