Polish court lets Communist-era secret police challenge automatic pension cuts

by Reuters
Wednesday, 16 September 2020 16:12 GMT

WARSAW, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Poland's Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that former employees of the Communist-era secret police can challenge government rules that automatically cut their pensions, saying any such decisions had to be taken on an individual case-by-case basis.

In 2017 the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, which portrays itself as fighting against the remnants of Communism in Poland, introduced a law cutting the pensions of some 39,000 former employees of the secret services.

The measure applied even to people who had worked only briefly during the Communist era, including many who went on to have long careers after the Communists were toppled peacefully in 1989.

For some of those affected, as well as their widows, the decision meant a drastic cut in income. A member of parliament said last year that at least 38 people whose pensions were cut had committed suicide.

The supreme court ruling means that individual challenges brought by thousands of former secret police officers will now be allowed to proceed.

The Onet.pl portal cited the example of a police officer called Piotr Wrobel, who became well known in the 90s for tackling the mafia, but whose pension was cut because he had joined the force before Communism fell.

The Supreme Court said on Wednesday that all circumstances should be looked at when workers' roles in the Communist era, including whether they had infringed human rights.

"There is a man and his deeds behind each case," Supreme Court Judge Bohdan Bieniek told journalists. (Reporting by Marcin Goclowski Editing by Peter Graff)

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