Italy law may thwart EU Holocaust denial initiative

[JURIST] An Italian draft law [notes, in Italian] published Friday proposing prison sentences for race-based hate crimes but not making Holocaust denial [JURIST news archive] an explicit crime in itself may complicate a German-initiated move to criminalize such Holocaust denial throughout the European Union. The Italian law, written by Justice Minister Clemente Mastella [official profile], would punish inciting racial hatred with up to four years in jail but does not include Mastella's original proposals [JURIST report] to criminalize Holocaust denial. Earlier this month Germany announced its intent to pursue an EU-wide initiative [JURIST report] banning such denials, which has previously been blocked due to freedom of expression concerns, as part of its platform [PDF text, in German] for the 2007 EU presidency [official website]. The Italian law, which now must be approved by the country's parliament [official website], would be a setback to the German effort, which was already expected to face strong opposition in Britain and other nations. Italy has blocked similar efforts in the past. Reuters has more.

Last week EU Freedom, Security and Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini [official website] urged the 27 EU nations to adopt the German proposals [JURIST report]. Several EU countries have taken steps to criminalize Holocaust denial at the national level: it is currently illegal to deny the Holocaust in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Spain. On Friday the UN General Assembly approved a resolution [press release] condemning denial of the Holocaust. AFP has more.

 

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