Armenia commended Switzerland on Wednesday for asking the European Court of Human Rights to reconsider a recent ruling that public denial of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey cannot be deemed a crime.
The ruling was handed down in December as a result of an appeal lodged by Dogu Perincek, a Turkish pro-establishment politician.
Perincek was fined by a Swiss court in 2007 for declaring during a lecture tour in Switzerland that the 1915 slaughter of some 1.5 Armenians is an “international lie.” The punishment stemmed from Switzerland’s anti-racism legislation that bans any act of denying, belittling or justifying genocide. It was upheld by the Swiss Federal Court.
The European court ruled that the Swiss verdicts violated an article of the European Convention on Human Rights that guarantees freedom of expression.
Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice announced on Tuesday that it will ask the Strasbourg-based court’s Grand Chamber to review the case. In a statement cited by the Reuters news agency, it said it is primarily seeking to clarify the scope available to Swiss authorities in applying the anti-racism legislation.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry welcomed the development. “Consistency in the fight against genocide denial is important for averting new crimes against humanity,” the ministry spokesman, Tigran Balayan, said in written remarks.
The European court ruling has implications for other European states such as France which have tried to criminalize the refusal to apply the term genocide to the mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the disintegrating Ottoman Empire.