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January 2012 – Armenian Cause Foundation

French Senate Votes Genocide Denial Criminilization Law

PARIS, France — The French Senate on Jan. 23 passed a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide, despite threats and bullying from the Turkish state. The bill passed with 127 votes for, 86 against.
Drafted by French General Assembly member Valerie Boyer, the bill renders denial punishable with a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($58,000).
It is slated to be signed into law by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
During the proceedings, members of the French Senate spoke powerfully and vocally in support of the bill, noting that it’s not directed against any specific country—that it is merely an effort to honor the memory of genocide victims and the struggle against hate speech.
Those who opposed the bill did so on the grounds of opposing memorial laws in general, arguing that the Senate is not a courthouse and not a place to legislate history.
The Senate first voted to confirm the constitutionality of the bill. The Senate also voted down four proposed amendments.
French-Armenian intellectuals and artists—including Charles Aznavour, Serge Avedikian, Simon Abkarian, and Levon Sayan—had each issued a call to the French Senate to pass the bill.
Commenting on the vote, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian said, “We mark this occasion by urging President Obama to honor his pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide and by calling on the U.S. House leadership to allow a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.304,” he added.
Thousands of French-Armenians gathered in front of the Senate building to express their support for the bill. The crowd celebrated by singing Armenian national and revolutionary songs (see video). On Jan. 18, a French Senate committee rejected the bill. The decision was not binding, however, and the Jan. 23 vote proceeded as scheduled.The bill’s passage did not come as a surprise, as both the left and the right in France had expressed support for it.On Dec. 22, the French General Assembly had approved the bill, prompting Ankara to withdraw its ambassador from Paris, only to have him return a few weeks later.France adopted a bill officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide in 2001.

Following is a translation of the law:


Aiming at suppressing the denial of Genocides, acknowledged as such by the law:

(Final text)

The Senate at its first hearing has adopted without any modification the law proposition with the following content, adopted by the National Assembly at its first hearing,

Article 1
The 1st paragraph of the IV chapter of the 29 July 1881 law on the freedom of press is completed by an Article 24 ter composed as follows:

“Art. 24 ter.- The penalties provisioned in Article 24 bis are applicable upon those who by the use of any of the means stated in article 23 contest or minimize in an excessive manner the existence of one or more crimes of genocide defined in the article 211-1 of the penal code and acknowledged as such by the French law.

Furthermore, the court can order the display or the diffusion of the adjudged decision under the conditions provisioned in the article 131-35 of the penal code.”

Article 2

The Article 48-2 of the same law is modified as follows:

1. After the word “deported” the following words are inserted: “ or all the other victims of crimes of genocide, crimes of war, crimes against humanity or of crimes or offences of collaboration with the enemy”,

2. At the end, the words: “the infringement provisioned by the article 24 bis” are replaced by the words “the infringements provisioned in the articles 24 bis and 24 ter”.

The exact text of the french law


visant à réprimer la contestation de l’existence des génocides reconnus par la loi.

(Texte définitif)

Le Sénat a adopté sans modification, en première lecture, la proposition de loi, adoptée par l’Assemblée nationale en première lecture, dont la teneur suit :

Voir les numéros :

Assemblée nationale (13ème législ.) :  3842, 4035 et T.A. 813.

Sénat :  229 et 269 (2011-2012).

Article 1er

Le paragraphe 1er du chapitre IV de la loi du 29 juillet 1881 sur la liberté de la presse est complété par un article 24 ter ainsi rédigé :

« Art. 24 ter. – Les peines prévues à l’article 24 bis sont applicables à ceux qui ont contesté ou minimisé de façon outrancière, par un des moyens énoncés à l’article 23, l’existence d’un ou plusieurs crimes de génocide défini à l’article 211-1 du code pénal et reconnus comme tels par la loi française.

« Le tribunal peut en outre ordonner l’affichage ou la diffusion de la décision prononcée, dans les conditions prévues à l’article 131-35 du code pénal. »

Article 2

L’article 48-2 de la même loi est ainsi modifié :

1° Après le mot : « déportés », sont insérés les mots : « , ou de toute autre victime de crimes de génocide, de crimes de guerre, de crimes contre l’humanité ou de crimes ou délits de collaboration avec l’ennemi » ;

2° À la fin, les mots : « l’infraction prévue par l’article 24 bis » sont remplacés par les mots : « les infractions prévues aux articles 24 bis et 24 ter ».

Délibéré en séance publique, à Paris, le 23 janvier 2012.

Le Président,

Signé : Jean-Pierre BEL