Legislators oppose Armenian genocide bill

 

Paris

A French Senate panel dealt a blow Wednesday to the government's plans
to make it illegal to deny that mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman
Turks nearly a century ago amounted to genocide.

In a striking development, the Commission of Laws in the Senate — the upper house of parliament — voted 23-9, with 8 abstentions, that such a bill, if passed, could violate constitutional protections including freedom of speech.

The panel vote, while a nonbinding recommendation, was the first legislative setback for the bill that has soured relations between France and Turkey since the National Assembly, the lower house, passed it last month.

The measure, floated by President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservatives despite a visceral outcry from Turkey, goes to the full Senate for debate Monday. The opposition Socialists had in the past also expressed support.

Officials at the Senate press office said that in the vast majority of cases, the full chamber follows the recommendations of the Commission of Laws.

However, rejection by the Senate does not necessarily kill a measure that the lower house — the most powerful in France — wants passed into law. The National Assembly can resurrect the bill and try again, and eventually gets the last word.

Two scenarios are now most likely when the Senate debates the bill Monday, Senate press officials said — Senators could look past the panel vote and pass the bill, putting it on a fast track to becoming law, or they could reject the bill, handing it off to a commission from both houses to iron out differences.

The second option would greatly slow the legislative process. A freeze on all but the most critical legislation goes into effect in early March ahead of spring presidential and legislative elections.

In a statement, the commission said: "There was a genocide, and the commission wants to express its infinite respect for the Armenian people, and the terrible experiences that they have endured."

But the panel also expressed doubts about "the legitimacy of the intervention of the legislature in the field of history" and suggested that commemorations or legislative resolutions might be a better way to express sympathy for the suffering than laws to criminalize some types of speech.

France formally recognized the 1915 killings as genocide in 2001, but provided no penalty for denying it. The Assembly bill would set punishment of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to €45,000 for those who deny or "outrageously minimize" the killings — placing such denial on par with those of the Holocaust.

France is home to an estimated 500,000 people of Armenian origin.

The bill has sparked a show of animosity between the two countries, with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing the French of "genocide" during France's 132-year colonial rule in Algeria. Turkey also briefly recalled its ambassador to Paris for consultations, while suspending military and economic cooperation.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SEO Account Manager

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SEO Account Manager is requi...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant - Global Leader - FTSE 250

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: As an Associate Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Representative

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family run school photogra...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - OTE £42,000

£28000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a leading s...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map