POSTS BY Uladzislau Belavusau

Perinçek v. Switzerland: Between Freedom of Speech and Collective Dignity

In its recent Grand Chamber decision "Perinçek v Switzerland" the ECtHR, once again, declares Armenian genocide denial protected against criminal prosecution by the right to free speech. The Court substantially disregards the specific atmosphere of denialism and gross violations of the rights of minorities in Turkey, moving central attention instead to Switzerland where – supposedly – no tensions are possible on the anti-Armenian grounds. The Court has failed to acknowledge the existence of the anti-Armenianism as a specific ideology prevalent amongst Turkish and Azeri nationalists, including those scattered in huge Turkish diasporas in Europe these days.

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Perinçek v. Switzerland: Between Freedom of Speech and Collective Dignity

In its recent Grand Chamber decision "Perinçek v Switzerland" the ECtHR, once again, declares Armenian genocide denial protected against criminal prosecution by the right to free speech. The Court substantially disregards the specific atmosphere of denialism and gross violations of the rights of minorities in Turkey, moving central attention instead to Switzerland where – supposedly – no tensions are possible on the anti-Armenian grounds. The Court has failed to acknowledge the existence of the anti-Armenianism as a specific ideology prevalent amongst Turkish and Azeri nationalists, including those scattered in huge Turkish diasporas in Europe these days.

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Paying Tribute to the Ghost of Democratic Deficit

Literally a week ago any scholar daring to advocate “less power for the EU Parliament” and “hands off the Commission” would have faced a storm of dramatic accusations from all sorts of legal and political scientists. EU academia is deeply infected by a virus called “democratic deficit”. Last week parliamentary elections in Europe revealed the need to challenge this virus and explain why politicising the Commission (the direction enthusiastically advanced in recent EU scholarship) is largely erroneous and potentially mortal for the EU immune system.

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Paying Tribute to the Ghost of Democratic Deficit

Literally a week ago any scholar daring to advocate “less power for the EU Parliament” and “hands off the Commission” would have faced a storm of dramatic accusations from all sorts of legal and political scientists. EU academia is deeply infected by a virus called “democratic deficit”. Last week parliamentary elections in Europe revealed the need to challenge this virus and explain why politicising the Commission (the direction enthusiastically advanced in recent EU scholarship) is largely erroneous and potentially mortal for the EU immune system.

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Armenian Genocide v. Holocaust in Strasbourg: Trivialisation in Comparison

At the end of 2013, the European Court of Human Rights delivered an impressively extensive judgement in the case Perinçek v. Switzerland. The condemnation of a Turkish politician for the denial of Armenian genocide by Swiss courts violated freedom of expression. Along with many human rights scholars, I would hardly shake hands with a Holocaust or an Armenian genocide denier. Yet I will be equally sceptical of courtrooms being appropriate sites to qualify historical truth. For a summary of that position, see my recent paper (“Historical Revisionism: Law, Politics, and Surrogate Mourning”). At first glance, the outcome of Perinçek is a victory for civil rights. Limiting historical discussion by criminal prosecution is clearly an anachronism in the 21st century. However, on a deeper reading, this decision reveals yet another judicial pitfall which substantially undermines its outcome for freedom of speech in Europe. This pitfall stems from a sort of legal hypocrisy embedded in the Court’s distinction between the Holocaust and other mass atrocities of the 20th century.At the end of 2013, the European Court of Human Rights delivered an impressively extensive judgement in the case Perinçek v. Switzerland. The condemnation of a Turkish politician for the denial of Armenian genocide by Swiss courts violated freedom of expression. Along with many human rights scholars, I would hardly shake hands with a Holocaust or an Armenian genocide denier. Yet I will be equally sceptical of courtrooms being appropriate sites to qualify historical truth. For a summary of that position, see my recent paper (“Historical Revisionism: Law, Politics, and Surrogate Mourning”). At first glance, the outcome of Perinçek is a victory for civil rights. Limiting historical discussion by criminal prosecution is clearly an anachronism in the 21st century. However, on a deeper reading, this decision reveals yet another judicial pitfall which substantially undermines its outcome for freedom of speech in Europe. This pitfall stems from a sort of legal hypocrisy embedded in the Court’s distinction between the Holocaust and other mass atrocities of the 20th century.

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