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The Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (IPN) was established by the Polish Parliament on December 18, 1998 with a special bill. The Institute is headed by the President whose post is independent of the state authorities. The President of the IPN is elected for a five-year term.
The Institute started its activities on July 1, 2000.
The headquarters of the Institute of National Remembrance is located in Warsaw. There are also eleven Branch Offices of the IPN, established in the cities where Appellate Courts are located, and seven Delegations throughout Poland.
The Institute of National Remembrance was created to address issues which are considered essential to the legislative power in Poland, primarily to preserve the memory of:
- the losses which were suffered by the Polish Nation as a result of the World War II and the post-war period;
- patriotic traditions of fighting against occupants, Nazism and Communism;
- citizens' efforts to fight for an independent Polish State, in defense of freedom and human dignity;
and to fulfill:
- the duty to prosecute crimes against peace, humanity and war crimes;
- the need to compensate for damages which were suffered by the repressed and harmed people in the times when human rights were violated by the state. This is the expression of belief that no unlawful deeds of the state against its citizens can be protected by secrecy or forgotten.
The Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (IPN) has been established to fulfill the abovementioned mission.
On the basis of the statute constituting the IPN, Communist crimes are understood as the deeds performed by officials of the Communist state in the period from September 17, 1939 to December 31, 1989, whose activities led to repress individuals and groups of people or to broke human rights in another ways. Crimes against humanity are understood mainly as crimes of genocide as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of December 9, 1948, as well as other forms of persecution and oppressions by official agents which were directed against people who belong to a given political, social, racial, religious or nation group. In accordance with the principles conveyed in the international law, no statutory limitation shall apply to war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity, whether committed in time of war or in time of peace, irrespectively of the date of their commission.
The IPN is responsible for gathering, assessing, disclosing and custody of the documentation created between July 22, 1944 and December 31, 1989 by Polish security agencies. The documentation would also include records regarding the Communist, Nazi and other crimes committed against Polish citizens in the period from September 1, 1939 to December 31, 1989, as well as political repressions carried out by officials of the former Polish investigative and justice organs in that time. The documentation concerning the activities of the security organs is also the subject of interest of the IPN.
The access to the IPN records is granted to foreigners on the basis of reciprocity.
Another major responsibility of the Institute is to investigate Communist and Nazi crimes as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity and peace. The IPN investigates crimes against people of Polish origin, as well as Polish citizens of other origin and other citizens who were harmed in the Polish territories.
Finally, the IPN is in charge of public education and has been engaged in research regarding the 1939-1989 period, as well as dissemination of the research results in the form of publications, exhibitions, seminars, etc.
The activities performed by the IPN while fulfilling its mission must take into consideration the need to protect personal data of the repressed.
The goals of the Institute are carried out by the following four departments:
- Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation
- Office for Preservation and Dissemination of Archival Records
- Public Education Office
- Vetting Office