Dutch Parliament Resumes Discussion of Bill on Penalizing Genocide Denial

The Dutch Parliament building in the Hague

THE HAGUE—The Dutch Parliament Monday resumed discussion of a bill that would criminalize the denial of genocide, reported the Federation of Armenian Organizations in the Netherlands.

The Christian Union party, which introduced the bill in 2006, recently held a roundtable discussion in which several groups have commented on the bill and some like the Centre for Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI) and the Federation of Armenian Organizations in the Netherlands (FAON) have brought forward arguments to move to the explicit criminalization of genocide denial.

The Christian Union faction, as the author of the bill, issued a memorandum, in which it emphasized the need for explicit criminalization of genocide denial based on the text and the objectives of the EU Framework Decision of November 28, 2008 on “Combating certain forms and manifestations of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law”. This decision explicitly assumes the criminalization of the genocide denial by the Member States.

The party issued a 23-page response to queries by other parliament members who had argued whether the current laws of the Netherlands on discrimination and racism sufficiently cover the issue of criminalizing genocide, as well as whether such a law would go counter to freedom of expression mandates in the country.

The authors of the bill believe that existing laws do not sufficiently cover genocide and through the legislation, they seek to clarify this aspect through Dutch law. They cited as an example a similar law on the denial of the Holocaust and argue that in the absence of such a law, the judiciary would have a difficult time judging on matters that stem from Holocaust denial.

Regarding the freedom of expression concerns, they argued the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights did not cover serious offenses against a particular group.

The Christian Union Factions lists the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide as examples and adds the genocides in Rwanda and Kosovo in the legislation.

Analysts believe that a full debate on the legislation will take place later this year, given the shift in the make up of the Dutch parliament, following the 2010 election.

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