In a controversial move, the European Parliament (EP) has decided to lift the immunity of four Law and Justice (PiS) MEPs, accusing them of violating hate crime laws in Poland. The allegations stem from an election advert.
The targeted MEPs, Beata Kempa, Beata Mazurek, Patryk Jaki, and Tomasz Poreba, face charges based on accusations filed by Rafal Gawel, a left-wing Polish activist. Gawel claims that the MEPs committed “racist crimes” by retweeting or liking a PiS election spot on social media from a campaign preceding the 2018 local elections.
The contentious video highlighted alleged threats related to the influx of irregular immigrants to Europe, linking “enclaves of Muslim refugees” with sexual assaults and violent attacks.
Gawel, previously convicted of embezzlement in Poland in 2019 and wanted by the Polish police, sought asylum in Norway, claiming to be a victim of a politicized justice system. In November 2021, he filed a subsidiary indictment after the prosecutor’s office dismissed his original claims as unfounded twice.
Following this, Warsaw court judge Edyta Snastin-Jurkun requested the European Parliament to waive the MEPs’ immunities. Gilles Lebreton, an MEP and rapporteur in the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, labeled the move as politically motivated and recommended its rejection.
Despite Lebreton’s opinion, the Legal Affairs Committee voted in favor of the proposal on Tuesday.
Commenting on the ruling, Beata Mazurek expressed the MEPs’ lack of surprise, stating, “We predicted that this would happen, taking into account what is occurring in this parliament.” She emphasized their commitment to their work, asserting, “We are not limited in any way. We will certainly not succumb to such pressure and become intimidated or limited in our political activity.”