OSCE expresses concern over plans to criminalize genocide denial in France
Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 23 /Trend/
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, expressed concern on Thursday over the approval by the lower chamber of France's Parliament of a draft bill that aims at criminalizing public statements denying genocides, says the statement of OSCE published on the website of the organization.
The bill was voted today by the National Assembly. If approved by the Senate -- the upper house of Parliament -- it would make those who deny or "outrageously minimize" genocides recognized as such by French legislation liable to a one-year jail term, or a 45,000 euro fine, or both.
"I fully acknowledge the humanitarian intentions of those members of the National Assembly who authored and supported this proposal. However, I believe that the final adoption of these legal amendments would raise serious concerns with regard to international standards of freedom of expression," Mijatović said.
"Furthermore, it could set a precedent internationally for politically construed, ad-hoc criminalization of public debates. Criminalization of debates on history's true course, even of obviously false and offensive statements about a nation's tragic moment, is not conducive to a better understanding among people, communities and authorities of OSCE participating States."
Mijatović also said she feared the passing of this law by a nation with a great history of press freedom might prompt other countries in the OSCE region to follow France's example and similarly criminalize historical statements in violation of their OSCE commitments which aim at encouraging free discussion on issues of public interest.
"A proliferation of national prohibitions on particular statements related to the culture and history of different nations and regions would render international free-speech standards inapplicable and subordinate them to a plethora of fragmented national strategies on regulation of speech and expression."
Mijatović said she hoped the French Senate would defeat the bill.
On Thursday, the French parliament adopted a bill criminalizing denial of the so-called "Armenian Genocide".
Some 45 out of 577 French MPs participated in the voting, 38 of which voted for, while 7 voted against the adoption of the bill.
The bill envisages about one year imprisonment and a fine worth 45,000 euros for denial of the so-called "Armenian genocide".