French constitutional council ruled late Thursday that the criminalization of Armenian genocide denial is an “unnecessary and disproportionate attack against freedom of speech” and rescinded the ruling which labeled the denial as a “hate crime.”
“This ruling causes uncertainty regarding expressions and comments on historical matters. Thereby, this ruling is an unnecessary and disproportionate attack against freedom of speech,” the council said.
The ruling that criminalized the denial had caused anger and reaction among the Turkish society living in France as well as Turkey. The law carried a punishment of a year in prison or 40 thousand euros of fine.
A similar law was also rescinded during former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s term on grounds of freedom of expression.
The European Court of Human Rights also ruled in 2015 that Doğu Perinçek, a prominent Turkish politician, executed his right of free speech when he denied the Armenian genocide in Switzerland where he was convicted, citing a democratic society would not subject Perinçek to a penalty for expression. The council reportedly took that fact into consideration before decision.
From Turkey’s perspective, the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1915 occurred after some Armenian nationalists sided with the invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties. Turkey describes the events of 1915 as a tragedy for both sides. Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia, along with international experts, to tackle the issue.