On 28th February 2012, the Constitutional Council of France cancelled the law against genocide denial; or, as Hürriyet Daily News (@HDNER) put it, the Constitutional Council cancelled the law against “‘genocide’ denial“. The Council ruled that the law was ‘contrary to the Constitution [contraire à la Constitution]’.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu hoped that the Constitutional Council’s ruling will set a ‘precedent‘; but, like the Constitutional Council itself, he ignored the precedent of existing (and structurally identical) blackletter law and case law.
I have already explained the crimes of expression in France and Turkey; explored the politics and morality of the law against the denial of crimes against humanity; and challenged basic misunderstandings of the anti-denial law. Here, I will just make five key points:
- Holocaust denial has been illegal since 1990 (under the Gayssot Law). If the law against Armenian Genocide denial is unconstitutional, so is the law against Holocaust denial.
- Both chambers recognise the Armenian Genocide; a cross-party consensus in the National Assembly wants the criminalisation of denial; both socialists and conservatives support the law.
- Under laws criminalising incitement to hatred (and understanding denial or justification as incitement), French courts already punish denial or justification of French or international war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. (Thus, denial of the Atlantic slave trade has been illegal since 2001 (under the Taubira Law).) Again, if the law against denial of the Holocaust is unconstitutional, so are the rulings in case law.
- The European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations’ Human Rights Committee recognise the French anti-discrimination laws as ‘necessary’.
- Claims that the law is an election vote-winner are dependent upon falsehoods about, or misunderstandings or misrepresentations of parliamentary activity and election results, and the nature and value of minority community “bloc votes”.