French MPs vote to criminalise denial of Armenian genocide

The new amendment covers all events which French law deems to be genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or slavery, including 'denial or trivialisation'

Rachael Pells
Sunday 03 July 2016 15:53 BST
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French Armenians attend a commemoration ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide last year
French Armenians attend a commemoration ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide last year (Getty)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

French MPs have voted unanimously to pass a law banning the denial of crimes against humanity.

The amendment was passed as an extension of the current French holocaust law and includes “denial or trivialisation” of all events classed as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or slavery as punishable crimes.

The act means that denial of events such as the Armenian genocide will be punishable by up to one year in prison and a 45,000 Euro fine (approximately £37,760).

The French parliament passed an Armenian genocide law in 2001 and tried to ban denial of it in 2012. The law, which made it illegal to negate acts that parliament had decided were crimes against humanity, was blocked by the Constitutional Council, however, on the grounds that it was a limit on freedom of expression.

While the new motion is yet to be passed by France’s Senate, backers of the amendment hope for it to be implemented by the end of the year.

The bill also allows NGOs that campaign on slavery issues to take legal action against related denial crimes.

Nearly 1.5 million people were executed by Ottoman armies during World War One.

Turkish officials have said the killings were part of a collective tragedy during which both Turks and Armenians died, but Armenians have long campaigned for the mass murders to be categorised as a crime against humanity.

Last month, Germany voted to recognise the Armenian killings as genocide – a term rejected by ministers in Ankara.

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