France: Letter to president on genocide-denial law
25 Jan 2012
Dear Mr President:
I am writing to you on behalf of ARTICLE 19, an international organisation defending freedom of expression and freedom of information worldwide.
ARTICLE 19 is gravely concerned about the draft law, approved on 22 December 2011 by the National Assembly and on 23 January 2012 by the Senate, criminalising public denials of the 1915 Armenian genocide (Draft Law). ARTICLE 19 urges you not to ratify the Draft Law in order to avoid unnecessary interference by the State with the right to freedom of expression and information, in violation of international standards.
On 19 January 2012, ARTICLE 19 released a statement, which I have attached for your reference, outlining its concerns with the Draft Law. ARTICLE 19 also sent a letter to the French Senate, urging that it reject the Draft Law based on the concerns outlined in the attached statement.
In summary, ARTICLE 19 believes that the Draft Law would elevate a historical event to ideology and unduly interfere with the individual’s right to know and the search for historical truth. Moreover, criminalising speech is anti-democratic. The severe criminal sanctions – a one-year prison sanction and 45,000 Euro fine – for denial of the genocide committed against ethnic Armenians will have a chilling effect on the speech of dissenters and stifle historical debate. Because no pressing social need exists for the suppression of views on political events, the Draft Law is not necessary in a democratic society, and therefore violates both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Please inform us what action you take in this urgent matter and what further assistance ARTICLE 19 can provide.
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