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France13 October 2006

Reporters Without Borders regrets adoption of law making it a crime to deny Turkish genocide against Armenians

Reporters Without Borders can only regret the adoption by the French National Assembly, on 12 October 2006, of a draft law making denial of the Armenian genocide a crime. It will now be punishable by five years in jail and 45,000 euros fine.

The law complements that of 19 January 2001 in which France publicly recognised the 1915 Armenian genocide.

“There is obviously no question of going back on the recognition of the Armenian genocide, but legislating on it will expose anyone denying it to harsh judicial penalties set out by the 18 July 1881 law on press freedom (Article 24a). Memorial laws contribute to the creation of an official historical truth. This practice is incompatible with France’s fundamental values, starting with freedom of expression,” said the organisation.

“Not only is it absurd that free expression - however contestable and that is not the question - should be submitted to a constraint which is also an additional threat, but it seems to us that this legalistic concept of history will be much more likely to stoke up antagonism rather than promote debate.

“It is particularly symbolic that this vote should have been held on the same day of the awarding of the Nobel Prize for literature to Orhan Pamuk, who was himself taken to court by the Turkish authorities for having raised the issue of this genocide,” Reporters Without Borders stressed.

Reporters Without Borders hopes that senators due to examine the law at the second reading, will show less attention to forthcoming elections and will have the wisdom to reject it. If not it could have incalculable consequences for all historians and of course for press freedom.




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