French Parliament bans Armenian ‘Genocide’ Denial

The unanimously passed amendment states that the “denial or trivialization” of events such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or slavery will result in state pursued legal action.

According to the new law, denying the Armenian genocide could result in up to one year in prison and a 45,000-euro fine.

France officially passed the Armenian genocide act in 2001, and first tried to ban its denial in 2012, but failed over claims made by the Constitutional Council, which said it would hinder freedom of expression.

Ankara rejects the term “genocide” and says 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians, and at least as many Turks perished between 1915 and 1917, in what the Turkish government sees as the “casualties” of World War I. Only a few countries, including France and Russia, officially recognize the events as genocide. Turkish Foreign Minister Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said, “We have closely followed the preparation and adoption processes of the draft amendments to the Law on the Freedom of Press that the French National Assembly adopted concerning criminalization of the denial of war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide under certain conditions,”

“In the event that the draft is enacted in its present form, it has the potential to pose the risk of unlawfully limiting the freedom of expression, especially impinging on the jurisprudences of the ECtHR [the European Court of Human Rights] and the Constitutional Council of France,” said Bilgiç in the statement. The Statement of the Turkish Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Hüseyin Müftüoğlu, in Response to a Question Regarding the Amendment to the Law on the Freedom of Press Adopted in the French Parliament; The legal amendment for broadening the scope of the crime of genocide denial, which has been adopted at the French Parliament, has the potential to pose the risk of unlawful restriction of the freedom of expression as pointed out in our previous statements.

Furthermore, several French parliamentarians and jurists are of the opinion that this amendment contradicts with the legislation method as it brings nothing new to the French criminal legislation and contains ambiguous elements incompatible with criminal law. The fact that significant number of parliamentarians voted against the amendment and its adoption by a narrow margin demonstrate the lack of consensus on the issue.

Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word ‘genocide’ as an accurate term for the mass killings of Armenians that began under Ottoman rule in 1915. It has in recent years been faced with repeated calls to recognize them as genocide. To date, 29 countries have officially recognized the mass killings as genocide.