Poland’s “Decommunistation” Law Strips Disabled Widow of Pension – But Keeps PRL-era Prosecutor in Top Job
The disabled widow of a communist-era government driver in Poland has had her pension slashed to statutory minimum as part of the current authorities’ “clean-up” of the public sector – despite a PRL prosecutor and former Communist Party member being allowed to keep their high-power jobs with the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.
Lidia Janicka, 76, is the widow of the late Włodzimierz Janicki, who worked as a driver in the 1980s for the communist government. Poland’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has told her that, under new rules, she will no longer receive her widow’s pension of 2,031 złoty per month – but is entitled only to the statutory minimum of 850 złoty, plus a 213 złoty disability allowance.
In late 2016, Poland’s PiS-dominated parliament passed a new “de-communisation” law to cut the pensions of anyone who worked “in the service of the totalitarian state” between July 22 1944 and July 31 1990. Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) reports that around a quarter of a million people may be affected by the law – but that number does not include at least two former communists who now hold high-power posts with the blessing of the PiS government.
Stanisław Piotrowicz joined the Communist Party in Poland in 1978, and by the time of martial law (December 1981 to July 1983), he had become a prosecutor. His name appears on an indictment against Solidarity activist Antoni Pikul, a 28-year-old arrested for distributing banned literature. Mr Piotrowicz holds a post on the Commission for Justice and Human Rights, and penned the controversial law that stripped the Constitutional Tribunal of political independence.
Professor Henryk Cioch, one of the Constitutional Tribunal judges selected by PiS, was also a member of the Communist Party.
Both men deny having helped the communist authorities in pre-1989 Poland.