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Genocide denial: should we defend the right to speak evil?

Dr Jean-Marc Dreyfus, reader in Holocaust studies, University of Manchester; co-organiser, 'Corpses of mass violence and genocide' research programme; co-author, Writing the Holocaust Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European studies, University of Oxford; commentator; director, Free Speech Debate Angus Kennedy, head of external relations, Institute of Ideas; chair, IoI Economy Forum; convenor, The Academy Brian Winston, Lincoln Professor, University of Lincoln; author, A Right to Offend: free expression in the twenty-first century Chair: Dennis Hayes, professor of education, University of Derby; director, Academics for Academic Freedom; co-founder, East Midlands Salon In January 2012, the French Senate voted for a bill with cross-party support to make it a criminal offence to deny the mass murder of Armenians in 1915 was genocide. Anyone who 'outrageously' questions the official version of events would face a one-year prison sentence. The French Constitutional Court quashed the bill, saying it represented an 'unconstitutional attack on freedom of expression'. Nonetheless, the European Framework decision on Racism and Xenophobia says genocide denial or gross trivialisation should be a crime in all EU member states. As well as France, a number of member states have rejected this, including the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Sweden and Spain. Their rejection reflects an ongoing dispute about whether historical truths should be treated as legal truths. It also reflects ...
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