French Senate approves Bill criminalising Armenian Genocide denial

By The Armenian Weekly | Friday, 14 October 2016

PARIS, France (A.W.)—The French Senate—the upper house of the Parliament of France—approved a draft law criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide on Oct. 14. The law was approved by a vote of 156 for and 146 against.

Armenian Foreign Affairs Minister Edward Nalbandian hailed the decision in a press statement following the vote. “We welcome the Senate’s move to approve the draft law adopted by the National Assembly in the summer,” a read a part of the press statement.

Earlier this year, the lower house of the French parliament unanimously passed a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide. The bill, which was passed on July 1, set out penalties of up to a year in prison and a 45,000 Euro ($50,000 USD) fine for those who publicly deny the genocide.

The two houses of the French parliament passed a law criminalizing the denial of the genocide inDecember 2011 and January 2012, though the country’s constitutional court later struck down that law, claiming that it is an infringement on freedom of speech. In July 2012, French President Francois Hollande confirmed plans for a new law criminalizing denial of the Armenian Genocide with representatives of the Armenian community.

The French National Assembly first recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2001. The first step towards recognition occurred in 1998. A private bill, inspired by the election pledge of Lionel Jospin, who was running for president in 1995, was put on the agenda of the National Assembly in 1997 by politicians Jean-Paul Bret, the president of the France-Armenia group, Didier Migaud, René Rouquet, and all members of the Socialist Party. The parliamentary majority was in favor of the law and the first debate took place on May 29, 1998, in front of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

After years of debate, the law passed on Jan. 18, 2001. The bill contained one article: “France publicly recognizes the 1915 Genocide of the Armenians.”