Giulia Borgna

The Armenian Genocide Is (Not) Final. The Grand Chamber of the European Court Puts a Stop to Criminalization of Genocide Denial

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Genocide; Armenian Tragedy; European Court; Negationism; Abuse of Rights

On 15 October 2015, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the case of "Perinçek v. Switzerland", ruling that the applicant's conviction for denying the legal qualification of the Armenian massacre as a genocide amounted to a breach of his freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 10 ECHR. Although being fully aware of the acute sensitivities attached by the Armenian community to the 1915 massacre, the Court deemed that, in the case at hand, the applicant's statements touched upon questions of public interest and did not turn into a call for violence, hatred or intolerance. From a different perspective, the Court restricted the scope of application of the abuse of rights' clause contained in Article 17 ECHR, holding it to be inapplicable to the case at hand, as opposed to several precedents concerning Holocaust denial. Although the 're-expansion' of the scope of Article 10 ECHR and the non-applicability of Article 17 ECHR are certainly praiseworthy, the Court's judgment in "Perinçek" raises several critical issues (mainly concerning methodological choices and a troublesome distinguishing with Holocaust denial) and leaves a number of unresolved questions. These factors call for a cautious approach in marking this judgment as a 'turning point' in the ECtHR's case-law.

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