Justyna Zandberg-Malec

New crime in the Penal Code

Stalkers may no longer go unpunished. Under a proposal by the Polish Ministry of Justice, persons guilty of persistent harassment may be sentenced to as much as 12 years in prison.

The crime of stalking would consist of obsessive pursuit or contact with another person against his or her will. An example would be hounding someone with repeated telephone calls, e-mails, SMS’s, or even unwanted gifts. So far the Polish Penal Code has not provided grounds for prosecuting these types of acts. Now the Ministry of Justice, in cooperation with the Penal Law Codification Commission, has drafted a proposal to introduce new regulations along these lines in the Penal Code.

Under the proposal, persistent harassment resulting in an invasion of privacy or instilling a well-founded fear for the safety of the victim or the victim’s family would be punishable by up to 3 years in prison. The same punishment would apply to malicious use of someone’s personal data in order to cause them material or personal harm. If the harassment drove the victim to attempt suicide, the culprit would face from 2 to 12 years in prison.

The proposal will now be circulated for inter-ministerial and social comment. The Parliament is expected to take up the bill in early autumn.