[JURIST] The Parliament of Greece [official website] on Tuesday ratified a bill that criminalizes the denial of the Armenian genocide. The revised bill is titled “Fight Against Xenophobia,” and it was adopted by a vote of 54-42, with 3 parliament members abstaining from the vote. With Thursday’s vote, Greece joined [Armen press report] Switzerland and Slovakia to become the third state to criminalize the denial of the World War I era Armenian genocide [NYT backgrounder]. A violation [Ria Novosti report] of the new bill is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine not to exceed 30,000 Euros. Further, parties or associations that support racism may be deprived of government funding for a period of one to six months and receive fines up to 100,000 Euros.
In recent years Armenian nationals have fought with the international community to recognize the killings of 1.5 Armenian citizens that occurred approximately 100 years ago and allegedly resulted in the killing of 1.5 million Armenian citizens during World War I, known as the Armenian genocide [JURIST news archive]. Turkey has long disputed the numbers, alleging the killings were a result of a civil war that took place after the collapse of the Ottoman empire. In December 2009 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled [JURIST report] that prosecutions for denying that the killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 was a genocide are an attack on freedom of expression. In 2009 Turkey and Armenia signed [JURIST report] a landmark accord in Switzerland to normalize relations between the two countries and open up borders. In 2010 a spokesperson for the US State Department stated that the Obama administration opposed a vote [JURIST report] before the House of Representatives on a resolution [HR 252 materials] branding the World War I-era killings of Armenians by Turkish forces as genocide.