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Statement Of The Spokesperson Of The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, Tanju Bilgiç, In Response To A Question Regarding The Amendment Proposal To The Law On The Freedom Of Press Discussed In The French Senate , 15.10.2016

QA-38, 15 October 2016

The amendment proposal to the Law on the Freedom of Press, which was adopted on 6 July 2016 by the French National Assembly concerning the criminalization of the denial of war crime, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide under certain conditions, was withdrawn from the Draft by the Special Commission established within the French Senate in September as it contradicts with the legislation method. However, the said amendment proposal was reintroduced into the Draft during the French Senate Plenary Session dated 14 October 2016 with 156 votes in favour to 146 against.

This recent regulation, in contrast to the claims of some circles, does not contain any reference to the events of 1915. Moreover, the events of 1915 is a legitimate matter of debate under the protection of freedom of expression, according to the caselaw of the European Court of Human Rights. Likewise, it is recalled that a denial law, which was previously adopted in France concerning the events of 1915, was subsequently revoked by the French Constitutional Council in 2012 as it contradicts with the freedom of expression and does not comply with legislative power of parliaments.

On the other hand, the recent regulation, which was considered against the legislation method by the Special Commission within the French Senate since it brings nothing new to the French criminal legislation and contains ambiguous elements incompatible with criminal law, has the potential to pose the risk of unlawful restriction of the freedom of expression.

The fact that this recent regulation, which is problematic with respect to the law and the freedom of expression, is set forth just prior to the upcoming elections to be held in 2017 in France, demonstrates that it is dealt with domestic political motives rather than legal considerations. It also reveals that the political gains to be earned in the elections are prioritized over the law and universal values.

We will closely follow the upcoming processes in the near future, regarding the said regulation which has not yet been enacted.