Amal Clooney to Represent Armenia in European Court

Amal Alamuddin Clooney


Here is a surprising news item being disclosed for the first time in this column—Amal Ramzi Alamuddin, wife of prominent actor and human rights activist George Clooney, will be one of the attorneys representing Armenia next month at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Harut Sassounian

Mrs. Clooney is a highly regarded attorney specializing in international law, criminal law, human rights, and extradition. She has been involved in several major lawsuits such as return of the Elgin Marbles from Great Britain to Greece, and defending Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. She has also worked with the Prosecutor of the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia.

Amal was born in Lebanon to a Druze father and Sunni Muslim mother in 1978. At the age of two, her family moved to the United Kingdom. She received her law degree from New York University School of Law and clerked at the International Court of Justice (World Court). After returning to London in 2010, she became a barrister at the Doughty Street Chambers. She served as advisor to Kofi Annan, UN Special Envoy on Syria, and as Counsel to the 2013 UN Drone Inquiry team. She is fluent in English, French and Arabic. Her marriage to George Clooney in September 2014 made worldwide headlines.

With such impeccable credentials, Mrs. Clooney will be a great asset to Armenia’s legal team in Strasbourg, in the appeal of Perincek vs. Switzerland before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights on January 28.

The case involves the conviction by Swiss courts of Dogu Perincek, a minor Turkish political party leader, who had travelled to Switzerland in 2005 with the explicit intent of denying the truth of the Armenian Genocide. In 2008, Perincek appealed the Swiss ruling to the European Court of Human Rights. A majority of five out of seven ECHR judges ruled on Dec. 17, 2013 that Switzerland had violated Perincek’s right to free expression.

This ruling was an unfair and unacceptable double standard, as the court considered denial of the Jewish Holocaust a crime, but Armenian Genocide denial an infringement on free speech. The five judges who ruled against Switzerland made countless judgmental and factual errors, misrepresenting Perincek’s allegations, misinterpreting Switzerland’s laws and court rulings, lacking basic knowledge of the Armenian Genocide, and repeatedly contradicting themselves. Two of the seven judges disagreed with the majority’s ruling and submitted a comprehensive 19-page report on the Armenian Genocide, siding with the Swiss court.

On March 17, 2014, Switzerland decided to appeal the ruling to ECHR’s 17-judge Grand Chamber, to defend the integrity of its laws and the country’s legal system. Specifically, the Swiss government challenged the court’s decision on three grounds:

1. ECHR had never before dealt with the juridical qualification of genocide and the scope of freedom of expression;

2. The undue restriction of “the margin of appreciation” available to Switzerland under ECHR’s jurisprudence;

3. The establishment of ‘artificial distinctions’ — in the absence of an international verdict, ECHR should have considered the Turkish Court’s 1919 guilty verdicts against the masterminds of the Armenian Genocide as evidence related to World Court’s jurisprudence.

Last year, when ECHR’s lower court was considering Perincek’s case, Armenia did not participate. Turkey, however, intervened by submitting extensive documentation questioning the veracity of the Armenian Genocide. This time around Armenia will take part with a strong legal team, which includes Geoffrey Robertson QC, a preeminent international lawyer and author of the remarkable book, “An Inconvenient Genocide: Who Now Remembers the Armenians?” Robertson will be joined in court by his associate Amal Clooney, and two Armenian government representatives Gevorg Kostanyan and Emil Babayan.

It is imperative that on the eve of the Armenian Genocide’s Centennial in 2015, ECHR’s Grand Chamber reverse the lower court’s flawed ruling, restoring the integrity of Swiss laws and preventing Turkey and Perincek from exporting their genocide denialism to Europe and beyond!

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  1. Araxie Apelian said:

    Good news!! The lady is welcome!! Just an objection to the author of the article:
    With all due respect to you, dear Harout, the treasures STOLEN by Elgin are called “Parthenon sculptures”!! They were “transformed” into “marbles” when Elgin took them off – broke them off – the Parthenon, destroying the monument!!

  2. Katia Peltekian said:

    Has anyone checked what her relation is to the daughter of Papa Jacob Kuenzler, the “father of the Armenian orphans” ?? The daughter Ida Kuenzler was married to the Lebanese druze Najib Alamuddin…. Ida wrote the book “Papa Kuenzler & the Armenians”

  3. i said:

    Clear message but there’s a tiny error here: “the court considered denial of the Jewish Holocaust a crime, but Armenian Genocide denial an infringement on free speech.” It is not the denial but its prosecution that was considered an infringement.

  4. Zareh Sahakian said:

    …in the end I hope Armenians are not choosing style over substance for this ultra-important national security issue.

    let’s cross our fingers.

  5. Lusik said:

    I believe that the world leaders join their voices when it is about Armenian Genocide. They are very consistent in that! Let’s skip here the analysis of what is the driving force and what is the source of this concerted behavior. There is a common rubric “reconciliation” that sponsors different programs and activities. World powers decided to reconcile victims of Genocide with perpetrators of Genocide via “independent”, not-publicized, local activities and programs of different nature. The goal is to brake into peaces and dilute the will of the Armenian nation. Among Armenians is disseminated an idea that the only way to get justice done is through the Turks themselves pushing their government for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Meanwhile, we should do, practically, nothing and the hope is that Turks will mature to that understanding. Wake up!
    Nobody is against the reconciliation, in principal. But there should be an order and logic in everything, especially when it is about lives of 1.5mln people cut abrupt. The tragedy of nation does not count only 1.5mln but also generations never born, as a result. This is how Jews people were estimating total of their loss.
    Here I am concerned with Swiss being strongly involved in this “reconciliation” game. I mean that Swiss mediated the “Armenian-Turkey” protocol. It appears, that now Swiss is scheduling for the year 2015 a show (I don’t dare to assume “soap-opera”) that should divert (with a non-zero probability) the energy and attention of the world from the very fact of Genocide to just its denial on the territory of Swiss. Another game that also makes Turkey-related issues “complex” is artificially fueled discord between FGulen and RTEerdogan. World leaders would not imagine better arrangements of “sensitive issues” for being excused.
    I think that Armenians should stay focused and continue giving an adequate attention to each event separately. We should be consistent in whatever we do.

  6. Jerry Dunn said:

    The Ottoman Empire encompassed more than what is currently present day Turkey. The Ottoman Empire has been gone since the end of World War I. I don’t see Armenia winning this as they should not.

  7. Pingback: 5 Reasons Amal Clooney is Much More Than George’s Wife – Feather Magazine