PARIS, France (A.W.)—The lower house of the French parliament unanimously passed a bill on July 1, criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide. The new bill sets 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, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The two houses of the French parliament passed a law criminalizing the denial of the genocide in December 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.
“This text will punish the challenge or the trivialization of all crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Ericka Bareigts, the junior minister in charge of equality told AFP. The amendment must now go to the upper house Senate for approval.
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.”