May 6, 2011 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Senate rejects bill criminalizing denial of the Armenian genocide

Reporters Without Borders welcomes this week’s decision by the French Senate to reject a bill that would have had made it a crime to deny that there was a genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915. “There is of course no question of denying the reality of the Armenian genocide, but we think this proposed law threatened personal freedom,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Like other genocide-denial laws, it violated the principle of protecting freedom of expression and opinion and supported the idea of an official history. Instead of trying to be historians, the senate has given priority to dialogue.” Under the proposed bill, anyone convicted of denying the reality of the Armenian genocide could have been fined up to 45,000 euros or sentenced to a year in prison. Based on the 1990 Gayssot Law criminalizing denial of the Jewish Holocaust, it would have complemented a 2001 law recognizing the reality of the Armenian genocide. Passed by the National Assembly in October 2006, the bill was finally rejected by the Senate on 4 May by 196 votes to 74, in accordance with a recommendation issued by the Senate’s legal commission on 13 April. A civil suit can still be brought under article 1382 of the civil code against anyone denying the Armenian genocide. See our 23.10.2006 press-release (in French)