The Framework of Criminal Law
Legislation on Bias-motivated Violence
|Bias-motivated Violent Crimes as Specific Offenses||Bias as an Express General Aggravating Factor||Bias as an Aggravating Factor in Specific Common Crimes|
Bias Types Covered by Provisions on Aggravating Circumstances
|Race/National Origin/Ethnicity||Religion||Sexual Orientation||Gender||Disability||Other|
Poland’s Criminal Code does not contain any general penalty enhancement provisions for crimes committed with bias motivations as an aggravating circumstance. In its Third Report, released in June 2005, the European Commission against racism and Intolerance (ECRI) strongly encouraged the Polish authorities to enact such legislation.
Bias-motivated Violent Crime as a Specific Offense
In Chapter 16 of the Criminal Code on “Offenses against peace, humanity, and war crimes,” two articles of the Criminal Code treat bias-motivated violence as a separate offense.
Article 118(1). Whoever, acting with an intent to destroy in full or in part, any ethnic, racial, political or religious group, or a group with a different perspective on life, commits homicide or causes a serious detriment to the health of a person belonging to such a group, shall be subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for a minimum term of 12 years, the penalty of deprivation of liberty for 25 years or the penalty of deprivation of liberty for life.
Article 119(1). Whoever uses violence or makes unlawful threats toward a group of persons or a particular individual because of their national, ethnic, political, or religious affiliation, or because of their lack of religious beliefs, shall be subject to the penalty of the deprivation of liberty for a term of between 3 months and 5 years.
According to ECRI’s Third Report, crimes committed in breach of these articles are rarely prosecuted. “[S]ome 28 to 30 cases have been brought under articles 118, 119, 256 and 257. According to the Ministry of Justice, in 2003, four cases were brought to court under article 119(1) (use of violence or threats) of the Criminal Code and one under 119(2) (incitement to violence or threats). All four cases resulted in convictions and imprisonment for the accused.”
 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, “Third Report on Poland,” CRI(2005)25, December 17, 2004, http://hudoc.ecri.coe.int/XMLEcri/ENGLISH/Cycle_03/03_CbC_eng/POL-CbC-III-2005-25-ENG.pdf.
 Criminal Code of Poland, Lexadin: The World Law Guide, http://www.era.int/domains/corpus-juris/public_pdf/polish_penal_code2.pdf.
 Articles 256 and 257 of the Criminal Code respectively punish incitement to racial hatred and the public insult of a group or a person on the basis of their national, ethnic, racial or religious origin.
 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, “Third Report on Poland,” CRI(2005)25, December 17, 2004, http://hudoc.ecri.coe.int/XMLEcri/ENGLISH/Cycle_03/03_CbC_eng/POL-CbC-III-2005-25-ENG.pdf .