EU approves framework decision criminalizing genocide denial

[JURIST] The European Union Thursday approved a framework decision [PDF text] aimed at criminalizing denial of the Holocaust [JURIST news archive] and other genocides following six years of intense debate. The end product was described as a carefully-balanced compromise by EU diplomats, which allows EU countries to opt out of enforcing the law if national laws do not prohibit similar conduct. The bill authorizes a maximum sentence of three years for:

Publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising: (1) crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes...directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin, and (2) crimes defined by the Tribunal of Nüremberg...directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.
Thus, the bill only covers incidents that are covered within the scope of the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction, such as the Holocaust and the 1994 Rwanda genocide [BBC backgrounder], but does not cover events such as the alleged Armenian genocide [University of Michigan backgrounder] or Stalin's purges and deportations [Wikipedia backgrounder] in Soviet Russia.

The decision allows member states to retain constitutional language granting freedoms of speech and press. The decision also criminalizes:
Publicly inciting to violence or hatred , even by dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material, directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.
The International Herald Tribune has more.


 

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