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Strasbourg: Grand Chamber Hears Armenian “Genocide denial” case of Perinçek v Switzerland

Perincek Grand ChamberOn 29 January 2015, the Grand Chamber held a hearing in the Article 10 case of Perinçek v Switzerland.  The case has been particularly controversial because, in the course of its judgment, the Chamber suggested that there was not the same international consensus in relation to the Armenian genocide as in relation to the holocaust.

The case arose out of the conviction of the Chairman of the Turkish Workers party, Doğu Perinçek, in Switzerland for the racial discrimination.  He participated in various conferences in Switzerland in May, July and September 2005, during which he publicly denied that the Ottoman Empire had perpetrated the crime of genocide against the Armenian people in 1915 and the following years. He described the idea of an Armenian genocide as an “international lie”.

On 9 March 2007 the Lausanne Police Court found Mr Perinçek guilty of racial discrimination within the meaning of the Article 261bis, paragraph 4 of the Swiss Criminal Code, finding that his motives were of a racist tendency and did not contribute to the historical debate.  He was not convicted of genocide denial.

He lodged an application with the Court of Human Rights and,  on 17 December 2013, the Second Section held, by 5:2, that there was a violation of Article 10.  We had a post about the decision from Dirk Voorhoof.  At the request of the Government of Switzerland the case was referred to the Grand Chamber.

The Court also heard submissions from the Government of Turkey and the Government of Armenia, represented by Geoffrey Robertson QC and Amal Clooney.

A Webcast of the full hearing is available on the Court of Human Right’s website.

The speeches on behalf of the Government of Armenia by Mr Robertson and Ms Clooney are also available on You Tube:

There was a full report of the hearing in Armenian Weekly.

The Court reserved its judgment and is not likely to deliver it until late 2015 or early 2016.

2 Comments

  1. Tobias

    The speech, defending freedom of expression, delivered by Dr. Stefan Talmon, speaking on behalf of the Government of Turkey, was the sharpest and to-the-point speech in that court hearing: https://youtu.be/JfXR_izzcac?t=1h10m22s

    It is unfortunate that the authors of this blog preferred to cover only the Armenian point of view, by posting two videos of speeches on behalf of the government of Armenia (which, by the way, was not a direct party to the case before the court!) – and did not balance this coverage with a link to the speeches delivered by the lawyers speaking on behalf of either Mr Perincek or the Government of Turkey.

  2. Altug

    I am glad Tobias noticed this, he is right. How typical for a blog that should be speaking un-biased but does not. Very sad indeed.

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