Bill threatens freedom of expression: Amnesty
PARIS - Hürriyet Daily News
Turks shout slogans outside the French embassy in Ankara. ‘The bill would contravene France’s international obligations to uphold freedom of expression,’ Amnesty said. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZA bill passed by the French Senate yesterday would violate freedom of expression by making it a criminal offense to publicly question events termed as “genocide” under French law, Amnesty International said Jan. 24 on its web site.
“This bill, if implemented, would have a chilling effect on public debate and contravene France’s international obligations to uphold freedom of expression,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia director of Amnesty International. “People should be free to express their opinions on this issue – in France, Turkey and elsewhere,” Duckworth added. “The real issue at stake with this bill is not whether the large-scale killings and forced displacement of Armenians in 1915 constituted a genocide, but the French authorities’ attempt to curtail freedom of expression in response to that debate. French authorities are failing to comply with their international human rights obligations.”
The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly held that freedom of expression applies not only to inoffensive ideas, “but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population.”
Bill does not aim to prevent racism
International human rights law allows for restrictions on expression rights for certain specific purposes such as respect of the rights or reputations of others or to protect national security or public order. However, this criterion does not apply in the French bill, said Amnesty International. The organization also said the bill does not aim to prevent racism and xenophobia, which are cited as the reasons of the bill by French authorities.
“While the French authorities claim the law would implement EU guidelines aimed at combating racist or xenophobic speech that is ‘likely to incite violence or hatred,’ the new bill does not mention such incitement as an expression that will be prohibited, and France already has in place legislation which prohibits such incitement,” the statement said.