France waits for ECHR on genocide bill

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France will wait for a final decision from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) before reintroducing a bill criminalizing the denial of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians as genocide, President François Hollande said May 12.
In 2012, France’s Constitutional Council struck down a government-backed law criminalizing denials of the 1915 events as genocide on the grounds that it contradicted the French Constitution. And late last year, the ECHR ruled that denial of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians as genocide falls within the limits of freedom of expression, following an appeal from a Turkish politician against his conviction in Switzerland. The decision was referred to the ECHR’s Grand Chamber by the Swiss Justice Ministry for the final ruling.
Speaking to a group of reporters during a visit to Yerevan, Hollande said they would wait for the final decision of the ECHR and that the law should be compatible with the Constitutional Council.
Workers’ Party (İP) Chairman Doğu Perinçek, who had described the Armenian genocide as an “international lie,” had complained that Swiss courts had breached his freedom of expression, based on Article 10 covering freedom of expression.
The ECHR ruling stated that “the free exercise of the right to openly discuss questions of a sensitive and controversial nature is one of the fundamental aspects of freedom of expression and distinguishes a tolerant and pluralistic democratic society from a totalitarian or dictatorial regime.”
Elaborating on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent statement in which he offered condolences to the families of more than 1 million Armenians who were massacred during World War I, Hollande said the gesture was an advance but not enough, calling on Turkey to recognize the killings as genocide and suggested that the recognition would “unite, not divide.”

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