Open letter on CIA secret prisons in Poland

Kultura Liberalna Editorial Board · 19 December 2014

Numerous public figures have recently made statements, in which the use of tortures on the territory of the Republic of Poland was justified in different ways. It is hard to measure the harm of spreading such opinions.

The CIA secret prison was operating on the territory of our country in years 2002-2003. Islamic-terror suspects have been, according to all the indications, interrogated with the use of tortures. Despite a persistent denial from the authorities, which agreed on the establishment of the base at the time, the truth about Kiejkuty prison has been revealed. Recent publication of the US Senate Report on CIA secret prisons gives an idea of the level of degeneration and cruelty, which was allowed i.a. in Poland.

Poles have a duty to firm moral judgment of the existence of CIA secret prison in Poland, and to take legal measures following from this fact. We must never lose sensitivity to what happened, even though the fault of Polish authorities is limited to the renunciation of sovereignty over the secret base to an allied state, without the knowledge of the interrogation methods implemented. Authorities bear responsibility for obeying the human rights on the entire Polish territory, and are not allowed to create illegal enclaves, which are exempted from any control. Poles, as the successors of the peaceful democratic opposition movements and of the “Solidarity”, and as Europeans, shall not forget, what was the basis for the establishment of the political order in which we currently live. Neither the emergence of democratic opposition in Poland, nor the establishment of a state ruled by law, would be possible without the development of human rights idea. We have to take care of rule of law.

The quality of democracy depends largely on the question, whether given society is faithful to its own principles. Tortures are a method, which deprives people of their elementary dignity and trust to the world. Justification of tortures is not only the betrayal of freedom and democratic values, on which contemporary Poland is founded, but also means a regress in cultural development. One can imagine that politicians or officers are deciding to exercise emergency measures in some cases of extreme threat. However, in a state ruled by the law, the only response must be a legal case, no matter what the final sentence would be. Lack of reaction of the public opinion, and of the judiciary in this case, will indicate that not only the rule of law is endangered, but also the moral integrity of Poland is at stake.


Adam Bodnar, Deputy Chair of the Board of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Halina Bortnowska, former Chair of the Board of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Tomasz Dostatni, Dominican Order

Agnieszka Holland, film director

Zdzisław Krasnodębski, professor of philosophy, University of Bremen

Marcin Król, professor of philosophy, University of Warsaw

Jarosław Kuisz, editor-in-chief at „Kultura Liberalna” magazine

Ewa Łętowska, Institute of Law Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences

Karol Modzelewski, professor of history

Andrzej Olechowski, former Polish minister of foreign affairs

Wiktor Osiatyński, professor of law

Józef Pinior, member of the Senate of the Republic of Poland

Monika Płatek, professor of law, University of Warsaw

Wojciech Sadurski, professor of law, University of Sydney

Ewa Siedlecka, journalist at „Gazeta Wyborcza”

Aleksander Smolar, President of the Board of the Stefan Batory Foundation

Paweł Śpiewak, Director of the Jewish Historical Institute

Karolina Wigura, head of the political section at „Kultura Liberalna” magazine

Jan Zielonka, professor of political science, Oxford University

Maciej Zięba, Dominican Order

Andrzej Zoll, former President of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal