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

On 15 October 2015, the Grand Chamber delivered its judgement in Perinçek v. Switzerland case. Notwithstanding some minor variations in reasoning, the outcome in the Grand Chamber is practically identical to the lower chamber. The Swiss criminal provision applied in the context of the denial of Armenian genocide was, thus, again found irreconcilable with freedom of expression under Article 10 ECHR. I have previously commented on the lower chamber judgement in a blog post entitled “Armenian Genocide versus Holocaust in Strasbourg: Trivialisation in Comparison”. On the one hand, I have overall welcomed the Court’s decision to protect freedom of speech against state censorship and instrumental memory politics. On the other hand, I have expressed scepticism about the unconvincing way the Court has coined a hierarchy between the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide. Such a hierarchy inevitably echoes sense of the symbolic injustice towards Armenian communities and schizophrenic governance of memory within the Council of Europe, where only Holocaust denial is exempted from the free-speech paradigm. Yet several aspects of the Grand Chamber’s judgement make the reasoning in Strasbourg even more controversial and require further scrutiny. In this short commentary, I offer a brief factual summary of the Perinçek case followed by a criticism of central findings by the Grand Chamber.

Facts and Judgement

Doğu Perinçek, a former leader of a Turkish workers party, made a number of controversial statements on several occasions during his visit to Switzerland in 2005, arguing that Armenian genocide is “an international lie” by the “imperialists of the EU and US”. The courts in Switzerland found him guilty under the criminal provision prohibiting denial or gross trivialization of genocides. After exhausting all the procedural tracks before Swiss tribunals, Dr. Perinçek brought his claim to Strasbourg ...

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FULL SPEECH: Amal Clooney on legal team in EHCR Armenian genocide case

Amal Clooney accuses Turkey of hypocrisy on freedom of speech in Armenian genocide trial. Amal Clooney, the human rights barrister, has accused Turkey of double standards on freedom of expression for defending a Turkish Leftist who described the Armenian genocide an "international lie". Mrs Clooney, who is representing Armenia on behalf of Doughty Street Chambers along with Geoffrey Robertson QC, said Turkey's stance was hypocritical "because of its disgraceful record on freedom of expression”, including prosecutions of Turkish-Armenians who campaign for the1915 massacres to be called a genocide. She took on the case against Doğu Perinçek, chairman of the Turkish Workers' Party and an MP, who was found guilty of genocide denial and racial discrimination in Switzerland in 2007, but had his conviction overturned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after being defended by Turkey's government. READ MORE:

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