|Minister of Justice of Poland
20th Minister of Justice of the Third Republic of Poland
18 November 2011 – 6 May 2013
|Prime Minister||Donald Tusk|
|Preceded by||Krzysztof Kwiatkowski|
|Succeeded by||Marek Biernacki|
|Member of the Sejm|
5 November 2007
|Member of the Senate|
19 October 2005 – 4 November 2007
4 December 1961 |
|Political party||Independent (2013-present)
Civic Platform (2005–2013)
|Alma mater||Jagiellonian University|
Gowin was born in Kraków to parents previously involved in the anti-communist Freedom and Independence movement, whose political discussions had an early affect on his upbringing. Later in life, Gowin was educated at Jagiellonian University and the University of Cambridge, where Gowin met and discussed Polish issues with the political scholar Zbigniew Pełczyński. Upon returning to Poland, Gowin also came into contact with professor and personal friend Józef Tischner, whose Catholic and political philosophy also highly influenced Gowin's views. Gowin later became the founder and rector of Tischner European University in Kraków. Between 1994 to 2005, Gowin acted as editor-in-chief of the conservative Catholic magazine Znak.
Gowin was elected to the Senat in the 2005 parliamentary election as a candidate for Civic Platform representing Kraków. In the wake of Jan Rokita's decision not to run for another term in the Sejm, Gowin was chosen as Civic Platform's candidate for Kraków in the 2007 parliamentary election, winning a seat.
Gowin was sworn in as a member of the cabinet on 18 November 2011. As minister, Gowin began a streamline program to remove bureaucratic hurdles from 49 professions in order to boost employment, including taxi drivers and tourist guides. Gowin's ministry also oversaw the criminal investigation on the collapse of investment firm Amber Gold and its subsidiary airline OLT Express in 2012. However, Gowin was criticized over his ministry's belated discovery of the firm's financial wrongdoings, as well as a legal loophole that allowed the firm to operate without a banking license. In October 2012, as part of his ministry's plans to reform the nation's judicial system and against the wishes of the Polish People's Party, the government's junior coalition partner, Gowin issued the elimination of 79 district courts, combining their functions with other regional courts in order to better utilize staff judges.
In reaction to the opposition Democratic Left Alliance's (SLD) pledge in November 2012 to ban far-right groups such as the National Radical Camp and the All-Polish Youth, Gowin stated his opposition to any move in an interview with TOK FM. While deploring both groups' nationalist rhetoric as "repulsive," Gowin stressed that both organizations did not exceed legal limits to issue a ban, as well as citing the absence of legal tools to issue such a decree. At the same time, Gowin affirmed his belief that rhetoric from far-left groups, including opinions from the journal Krytyka Polityczna, which Gowin singled out as a publication of "Leninist apologists," were more repulsive to his generation than rightist nationalists. "When I hear demands to censor the All-Polish Youth by SLD politicians and other parties, whose roots do not have anything to do with democracy, I think that these older gentlemen would do well to give pause," Gowin was quoted.
As minister, Gowin sought the European Court of Human Rights to recognize the 1940 Katyn massacre as a war crime and seek a proper investigation from Russian authorities over the event. During the case, Gowin stated that Russia still faced problems with the domestic rule of law in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse. Similarly, Gowin was deeply critical of the same court over its decision, while reviewing the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, to declassify papers regarding the CIA's alleged detention sites in Poland from the previous decade, saying the information's release constituted a security threat to Polish citizens, and reduced chances for Poland's cooperation with the European Court of Human Rights for the near future.
While in the government, Gowin quickly earned a reputation as a political maverick within Civic Platform and the cabinet, often voicing opinions contrary to both his party's and the government's agenda. As one of the most socially conservative members of the cabinet, Gowin became the center of several inter-party disputes that distanced himself from the cabinet. In October 2012, Gowin abstained from voting on the government's opposition to a stricter abortion control law submitted to the Sejm by United Poland. Also in October, Gowin showed surprise and dismay over Prime Minister Tusk's decision to increase in vitro fertilisation funding to married and unmarried couples trying to have children for over a year without changing existing laws, deploring the premier's lack of consulting the Ministry of Justice over the matter and instead referring the matter to the Ministry of Health. Gowin's earlier draft bill would have only given married women IVF treatment.
Prime Minister Tusk's decision to press forward in legalizing civil partnerships for heterosexual and homosexual couples in February 2013 additionally split Gowin from the prime minister and cabinet, with the justice minister leading 46 Civic Platform deputies to oppose the government's bill. Gowin's breaking ranks with the cabinet earned the justice minister scorn from many areas, with Tusk stating that, "The government is a kind of civil partnership, in which loyalty is essential," while the opposition liberal Palikot's Movement called for a vote of no confidence in the justice minister. Speculation increased during the period that Tusk would release Gowin from the cabinet, though the prime minister ultimately decided to retain the minister, for the time being.
Gowin's selection as justice minister was controversial among left-leaning deputies within parliament. Openly gay Sejm MP Robert Biedron of Palikot's Movement, in an interview broadcast on Polskie Radio, controversially compared Gowin's conservative views in close alignment with the Islamist Taliban, mocking his department as the "ministry of the Catholic religion." Biedron's comments were in response to Gowin's vocal opposition to legislation sponsored by the Democratic Left Alliance to legally endorse civil unions, who labeled the legislation as "not really for the welfare of specific individuals, but for a social revolution, a departure from traditional morality."
In March 2013, in the wake of former President Lech Wałęsa's comments regarding his view that gay politicians should sit "behind a wall" if elected, Gowin became one of the only members of the cabinet to openly agree with Wałęsa's opinions, declaring himself an opponent of "homosexual ideology."
In April 2013, during an interview with TVN, when asked to clarify his opposition to greater in vitro fertilisation funding, Gowin stated that "German scientists are importing embryos from other countries—probably also from Poland—and are conducting experiments on them." The minister's comments sparked a minor diplomatic row with Germany, with the German embassy in Warsaw stressing there was no certifiable information of Polish embryos being used within German borders. Representatives of the Polish Gynaecological Society similarly called Gowin's claims as "irresponsible and groundless." A week following the diplomatic spat, Prime Minister Tusk dismissed Gowin from the cabinet, stressing that "Gowin [had] focused too much on the political aspect of his job,” and that “I don’t have time to explain ministers’ comments every week." Tusk named former Interior Minister Marek Biernacki as Gowin's replacement.
- "O mnie". Jarosław Gowin. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- "Kreowany na konserwatystę". Nasz Dziennik. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- "President swears in new justice minister". Polskie Radio. 6 May 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- "Gowin: Bardzo wiele uchybień ws. nadzoru gdańskiego sądu okręgowego nad Amber Gold". Newsweek Polska. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- "Justice Minister faces backlash over Amber Gold collapse". Polskie Radio. 21 August 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Gowin likwiduje 79 sądów rejonowych. Wbrew PSL". Gazeta.pl. 6 October 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Delegalizacja MW? Gowin: A zaskakująco opiniotwórcza Krytyka Polityczna apoteozuje Lenina". Gazeta.pl. 14 November 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Human Rights court calls 1940 Katyn massacre a 'war crime'". Polskie Radio. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Gowin: odtajnienie skargi ws. więzień CIA w Polsce zagraża bezpieczeństwu Polski". Gazeta.pl. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Justice minister's fate in the balance". Polskie Radio. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "MPs reject further restrictions on abortion in Poland". Polskie Radio. 25 October 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "PM's IVF programme highlights rupture in ruling party". Polskie Radio. 23 October 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Gowin seizes spotlight as conservatives snub PM". Warsaw Business Journal. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Gay MP compares new justice minister to Taliban". Polskie Radio. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- "Gowin: Jestem przeciw gejowskiej ideologii. Zgadzam się z Wałęsą". Newsweek Polska. 27 March 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- "Poland and Germany in embryo experiments row". Polskie Radio. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- "Polish Justice Minister Gowin fired on embryo controversy". Bloomberg. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- "Anna Gowin o mężu Jarosławie, zwierzęciu bardzo politycznym". Gazeta Krakowska. 23 December 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- Parliamentary page - includes declarations of interest, voting record, and transcripts of speeches (Polish)
- Personal page - includes biographical information as well as articles authored by Gowin (Polish)