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Germany backs away from EU-wide Holocaust laws

[JURIST] The German EU presidency said Monday that it would support EU anti-racism legislation [press release] that would impose maximum one to three-year terms of imprisonment for "[p]ublic incitement to hatred and violence for reasons of racism or xenophobia," but would not push for any law that would explicitly ban swastikas [JURIST report] or criminalize Holocaust denial across the European Union (EU) [official website]. The proposed Framework Decision would criminalize "[p]ublic approval, denial or gross minimisation of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes" but would allow each EU country, through a national or international court, to determine what constitutes genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for purposes of the ban.

The reluctance of some member states to criminalize swastikas and Holocaust denial most likely caused Germany to forgo plans for EU-wide prohibitions despite earlier statements [JURIST report]. Last week, EU Freedom, Security and Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini [official website; BBC profile] urged the 27 EU nations [JURIST report] to adopt EU-wide laws criminalizing denial of the Holocaust and incitement of hatred and racial violence; on Friday, however, Italy published a draft law [JURIST report] proposing prison sentences for race-based hate crimes, but not making Holocaust denial an explicit crime. Reuters has more.

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