France lawmakers seek ruling on genocide denial ban

[JURIST] A French genocide denial ban [materials, in French] passed last week [JURIST report] stalled on Tuesday after two groups of French politicians challenged the law's constitutionality. The opposition groups, which include members in both the Senate and the National Assembly, gathered the necessary signatures to require the Constitutional council of the French Republic [official websites, in French] to determine if the law is constitutional. While France has already recognized the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide, the new law would punish anyone who denies that the killings constituted a genocide with up to a year in jail and a USD $59,000 fine [AFP report]. While French President Nicolas Sarkozy [official website, in French] has insisted that the law did not specifically target Turkey, Turkish officials were furious, warning that if the law takes effect, Turkey will impose unspecified sanctions on France [AP report]. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile] remained hopeful, however, that the constitutional council would strike down the genocide denial law [Al Jazeera report].

The Armenian genocide is also a contentious issue in US law and politics. In November the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] decided to revisit a case [JURIST report] to determine whether a California law declaring Armenian genocide in Turkey conflicts with US foreign policy. In August 2010 a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit [official website] unanimously dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the exclusion of materials questioning the Armenian genocide from a school curriculum. In March 2010 the Obama administration announced its opposition to a resolution [JURIST report] labeling the World War I-era killings as genocide. The announcement came after the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs passed the resolution [JURIST report] by a vote of 23-22. Erdogan condemned the resolution, and the Turkish government recalled its ambassador to the US.

 

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