Thursday, 31 May 2012

Activists in Court, Fighting for Tenants' Rights to Tell their Point of View

Members of the Tenants' Defense Committee were back in court on May 16, fighting a lawsuit filed for "violating the good name" of a landlady who was the subject of a video which was put on its web page. The video, entitled "Bozena B. destroys families in Wawer" includes interviews with tenants, a film of the lady in action and also some recordings of how the police reacted to the situation. We won't print the woman's name again, since it will be used against us in court. The landlady was of course not happy to be outed. According to the extremely restrictive Polish laws limiting free speech, statements like that somebody "destroys families" can be considered slander.

We however stand by the words of the tenants, whose lives are in turmoil because of the constant harrassment. What's more, only one family is left in the building, the others driven to desperation and not able to fight anymore.

Although the case started last July, it hasn't really started yet and the Committee is trying to get witnesses called. The Committee sees it as an important case related to free speech, as the right for tenants to tell their stories and comment on their landlords' behaviour is in question. The Committee has submitted significant evidence to substantiate the substance of the film and believes that it is acting in the public interest by warning people of such landlords and giving a voice to tenants who are usually ignored on various levels.

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