Reporters Without Borders: French law on “Armenian genocide” violates constitutional rights

Reporters Without Borders: French law on “Armenian genocide” violates constitutional rights

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan.31 / Trend, E.Tariverdiyeva /

The organization "Reporters Without Borders" has reiterated to the French parliamentarians concerns about the proposed law aimed at combating "denial of legally recognized genocides," which the Senate has just approved, Jean-François Julliard, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general said in his letter posted on the organization's website.

The substance of this law has been much debated but there are grounds for questioning its constitutionality as well, the report says. "Even its supporters must realize that the Constitutional Council's opinion is indispensible. We therefore urge you to demand its referral to the Council," the report said.

There are four key aspects of the law that disturb us: a conflict with the principle of the right to free expression, a lack of proportionality between the offence and penalty, a violation of parliament's competence and a lack of clarity in the wording, the organization's website reports.

Reporters Without Borders stresses that no goals cannot be achieved at the price of violating the constitutional principle of free expression.
"Turning historical fact into an unassailable dogma imposed by the state opens the door to dangerous excesses," the report says.

In addition, according to the Reporters Without Borders, the penalties envisaged by this law are neither necessary nor proportionate.

"Envisaging a prison sentence for abusing freedom of expression contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights, the principles of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other international obligations," the report says.

According to the report, there is another issue that justifies submitting this law to the Constitutional Council.

"The French Parliament has not been empowered by the Constitution to determine historical fact," as one of the Council's previous presidents, Robert Badinter, said.

"Just as democracy cannot be imposed at gunpoint, so an evolution in attitudes and national reconciliation cannot be imposed by a repressive and draconian law, especially one adopted in another country," the letter says.

After an eight-hour debate, the French senate adopted the bill. Some 127 senators voted in favor, while 86 senators voted against it on Jan. 23.

The lower house of the French parliament adopted a bill criminalising the denial of the so-called "genocide" on Dec.22.

The bill demands a year's imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euro for denying the so-called "genocide."

Armenia and the Armenian lobby claim that the predecessor of the Turkey - Ottoman Empire had committed the 1915 genocide against the Armenians living in Anadolu, and achieved recognition of the "Armenian Genocide" by the parliaments of several countries.

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