A HATE CRIME is an act prohibited by Polish law, motivated by prejudice.
Thus, it is a crime committed just because the person the crime is directed against has a characteristic distinguishing this person from the perpetrator, and frequently also from the majority of the surrounding society – for example, this person is of a different race or religion, comes from another country, or from a different culture, as well as speaks a different language. That means the victims of such crimes are selected intentionally, just because they have one of those characteristics referred to above.
The following are the examples of crimes motivated by hate: physical violence, verbal abuse, threats, damage to property, and arsons – provided that they are committed because of hatred for a person, provoked by this person’s race, religion, ethnicity, or nationality. In public places, you may also encounter other manifestations of hostility towards foreigners such as hateful graffiti placed on building walls or public transport stops. This kind of content may also appear on websites.
The acts described above are prosecuted offences in Poland. The penalties for committing those crimes are provided for in the Polish Penal Code. Some of hate crimes – violence, threats, insults, and breach of personal inviolability, as well as inciting hatred regarding nationality, ethnicity, race or religion, are treated in a particular way by Polish law and are separately regulated by the Polish Penal Code. You should know that hate crimes are prosecuted ex officio in Poland. It means that, in the event where the Police or prosecutor’s office learn about such a crime (from you, the media, or a witness’s account), these institutions are obligated to take actions irrespective of a victim’s initiative.