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Report from Seminar 2 B on Legislation: Possibilities limits and effects
Presentation by Mr. Jeremy Jones
Presentation by Mr. Charles Korman

Presentation by Mr. Charles Korman
Korman, Charles

Presentation by Charles Korman

In 1990 (July 1) France elected to adopt specific penal legislation against Holocaust denial. Parliament, defining the crime of denial as the “denial of a crime against humanity as defined under article 6 of the London Charter, and sentenced by an international or a French court”, introduced this new crime under article 24 bis of the 1881 law for the Liberty of the Press. One has to know that all crimes defined in the frame of the1881 law can only be indicted under very strict procedural conditions, which makes it very difficult to bring a successful legal action (a three-month statute of limitation, accurate identification of the sentence and/or acts alleged to breach the law, accurate definition of the crime, accurate identification of the article of the law etc.).

Was it – in addition to already existing crimes in French law – necessary to create a specific new crime? Subsequent to the introduction of this new crime several judgments (and also even before: cf. Faurisson’s case) have been pronounced, particularly those by the Paris Court (11th Chamber), which have shown that Courts can, or at least are prepared to, admit that the crime of Holocaust denial can also be indicted in the same way as other crimes like “racial defamation” and/or (as in a recent judgment in the Garaudy case) ” racial hatred” (articles 32 and 24 § 6). The Paris Court (first in Faurisson’s case after 1990), following on this point the views I expressed as the plaintiff’s attorney, i.e. that the denial crime belonged to the crimes which under article 4 of the International Convention against racial discrimination were to be considered as “dissemination of racist ideas”, in other words a “racist propaganda crime”, emphasized that this was the case also of the article 24 bis crime, and thus that this French law was still within the frame of the limits of the 2nd paragraph of article 10 (right of free speech) of the European Convention on Human Rights. In addition to the ”crime of denial” of the article 24 bis under the 1881 law, in 1983 the French Parliament included under §3 of article 24, also according to the 1881 law, the “apology of crimes against humanity”, a crime for which the penalty is much more severe than that of the crime of denial itself.
Following what was summarized here above, there remains the question that is one of our topics: Should the fight against Holocaust denial be waged by legal means, particularly through penal law? I think that since Holocaust denial is obviously a direct injury to human dignity on a very large scale it has to be forbidden by means of penal legislation.

Nevertheless, in my opinion it is not by delimiting Holocaust denial as such that law should apply its regulation, as for instance happened in France under article 24 bis of the 1881 law. It ought rather to be seen as a manifestation of Nazi policies of discrimination and therefore people who commit this denial are committing an act of propaganda of racism which, following article 4 of the International Convention against Racist Discrimination, is an act of “disseminating racist ideas”, a definition which has been recognized by French courts.

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