(RFE/RL) – France’s lower house of parliament last Friday unanimously passed a new bill criminalizing the denial of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and other crimes against humanity recognized by the French state.
The bill approved by the National Assembly in the first reading stipulates that any public denial of those atrocities will be punishable by up to one year’s imprisonment and a $50,000 fine. It must be approved by the French Senate in order to become a law.
Currently, French law only makes it a crime to deny the Holocaust.
The two houses of France’s parliament already passed a law against Armenian genocide denial in December 2011 and January 2012. The French constitutional court subsequently struck down that law, however, saying that it runs counter to freedom of speech.
French President Francois Hollande pledged to ban genocide denial when he ran for president later in 2012. He told leaders of France’s Armenian community at the time that a new bill should be drafted with “utmost legal security” so that it satisfies the constitutional court.
Hollande is expected to run for a second term in presidential elections slated for April-May 2017.
“This text will punish the challenge or the trivialization of all crimes against humanity and war crimes,“ the AFP news agency quoted Ericka Bareigts, the junior French minister in charge of equality, as saying on Friday. She said that includes the World War I-era slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians.