European Parliament Hosts Conference on Criminalization of Genocide Denial

BRUSSELS–Human rights activists, legal experts, and politicians from across the European Union gathered in the European Parliament in Brussels on January 21 for a summit to discuss the criminalization of Genocide denial as part of a framework decision that, if passed, will standardize the criminalizing of hate speech in Europe, the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy reported.

The framework, currently under consideration in the European Parliament, is supposed to standardize the laws criminalizing hate speech in the European Union’s member states. Various EU countries have laws against hate speech as it relates to the denial of the Holocaust and there is no similarity in sentencing of individuals or organizations that violate the law.

Most EU countries, however, do not criminalize hate speech in general. The conference, organized by the EAFJD, sought to spotlight the framework decision and discuss the necessity of having the denial of the Armenian Genocide be included in any framework that criminalizes hate speech.

The summit was held under the auspices of he Vice President of the European Parliament, Martine Roure, who also serves as the rapporteur to the framework decision. In her welcoming remarks to the participants, Roure said she would take the meetings discussions, presentations, and conclusions into consideration in her capacity as the framework’s rapporteur.

Peter Csonka, The head of the European Commissions Criminal Justice Unit read the text of the law, explaining that the framework decision has good grounds for being implemented. But he stressed that many challenges still exist to reaching a consensus on the law among the 27 EU member states

Representatives of European associations for Human rights and Legal experts from seven European countries (Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Netherlands, Slovakia, and Switzerland) were also at the conference to discuss the framework decision.

Experts detailed the legal history of criminalizing genocide denial in Europe, discussing the different scenarios that would follow if the European Parliament adopted the law. Frederic Krenc, a Belgian lawyer and the General Secretary of the Institute for Human Rights of the Brussels Bar, provided an analysis on the provisions of the framework decision’s, discussing in length the impact of it’s adoption on Member States’ with law’s against genocide denial.

During the conference, Hilda Tchoboian, the Chairperson of the European Armenian Federation, said that several European countries are very close to passing laws penalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide. Paradoxically, she noted, the framework decision offers this as an optional measure to national legislations.

“After the adoption of the European Framework Decision, it would be unacceptable that the countries that have already recognized the Armenian Genocide exclude the denial of this genocide from the penalization framework” she said.

“We had overcome the rationale of Realpolitik at the time when European countries recognized the Armenian Genocide; our countries must succeed today in the European fight against this racist plague of denial, and for this reason they must once again give up their logic of Realpolitik” she added.


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