European court: Denying Armenian 'genocide' is no crime

European Court of Justice rules Swiss law against genocide denial violates freedom of speech.

By REUTERS
December 17, 2013 16:03
1 minute read.
ARMENIANS VISIT a memorial to the Armenian Genocide in Yerevan

Armenian genocide memorial in Yerevan 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

STRASBOURG, France - Denying that mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915 were genocide is not a criminal offense, the European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday in a case involving Switzerland.

The court, which upholds the 47-nation European Convention on Human Rights, said a Swiss law against genocide denial violated the principle of freedom of expression.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The ruling has implications for other European states such as France which have tried to criminalize the refusal to apply the term "genocide" to the massacres of Armenians during the breakup of the Ottoman empire.

A Swiss court had fined the leader of the leftist Turkish Workers' Party, Dogu Perincek, for having branded talk of an Armenian genocide "an international lie" during a 2007 lecture tour in Switzerland.

Turkey accepts that many Armenians died in partisan fighting beginning in 1915 but denies that up to 1.5 million were killed and that it constituted an act of genocide - a term used by many Western historians and foreign parliaments.

"Genocide is a very narrowly defined legal notion which is difficult to prove," the court said.

"Mr Perincek was making a speech of a historical, legal and political nature in a contradictory debate."



The court drew a distinction between the Armenian case and appeals it has rejected against convictions for denying the Nazi German Holocaust against the Jews during World War Two.

"In those cases, the plaintiffs had denied sometimes very concrete historical facts such as the existence of gas chambers," the court said. "They denied crimes committed by the Nazi regime that had a clear legal basis. Furthermore, the facts they denied had been clearly been established by an international tribunal."

The judges cited a 2012 ruling by France's Constitutional Council which struck down down a law enacted by then President Nicolas Sarkozy's government as "an unconstitutional violation of the right to freedom of speech and communication".

Switzerland has three months to appeal against the ruling.

Related Content

Antiquities are unwrapped as thousands of priceless antiques from across war-ravaged Syria are gathe
August 19, 2018
India’s looted past and terrorism funding

By MAYA MARGIT/THE MEDIA LINE