Laws Against Holocaust Denial


Laws Against Holocaust Denial
   Holocaust denial is illegal in a number of European nations. Many countries also have broader laws that criminalize genocide denial. In addition, the European Union has issued a directive to combat racism and xenophobia, which makes provision for member states criminalizing Holocaust denial, with a maximum prison sentence of between one and three years. In addition, the Council of Europe’s 2003 Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cyber Crime, which concerns the prosecution of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems, includes an article entitled “Denial, Gross Minimization, Approval or Justification of Genocide or Crimes against Humanity,” although this does not have the status of law. Of the countries that ban Holocaust denial, a number (Austria, Germany, and Romania) were among the perpetrators of the Holocaust, and many of these also ban other elements associated with Nazism. The following is the status of Holocaust denial country by country where such laws are applicable: • Belgium: Holocaust denial was made illegal in 1995.
   • Czech Republic: In addition to Holocaust denial, the negation of purported communist atrocities was made illegal in 2001.
   • European Union: While the European Union has not prohibited Holocaust denial outright, a maximum term of three years in jail is optionally available to all member nations for “denying or grossly trivializing crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”
   • France: The Gayssot Act, voted for on 13 July 1990, makes it illegal to question the existence of the category of crimes against humanity as defined in the London Charter of 1945, on the basis of which Nazi leaders were convicted by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945–1946. When the act was challenged by Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, the Human Rights Committee upheld it as a necessary means to counter possible anti-Semitism.
   • Germany: Volksverhetzung (incitement of the people) is a concept in German criminal law that bans the incitement of hatred against a segment of the population. It often applies in (although is not limited to) trials relating to Holocaust denial in Germany. In addition, laws outlaw various symbols such as the swastika and Schutzstaffel (SS) runes.
   • Israel: A law to criminalize Holocaust denial was passed by the Knesset on 8 July 1986.
   • Liechtenstein: Although not specifically outlining National Socialist crimes, Item 5 of Section 283 of the criminal code prohibits the denial of genocide.
   • Luxembourg: Article 457–3 of the Criminal Code, Act of 19 July 1997 outlaws Holocaust denial and denial of other genocides. The punishment is imprisonment for between eight days and six months and/or a fine.
   • The Netherlands: While Holocaust denial is not explicitly illegal, the courts consider it a form of spreading hatred and therefore an offense. According to the Dutch public prosecution office, offensive remarks are only punishable by Dutch law if they equate to discrimination against a particular group. Article 137 of Dutch law stipulates “He who in public, orally, in writing or image, deliberately offends a group of people because of their race, their religion or beliefs, or their hetero- or homosexual orientation, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding one year or a third category fine.”
   • Poland: In addition to Holocaust denial, the denial of communist crimes is punishable by law.
   • Portugal: Although denial of the Holocaust is not expressly illegal in Portugal, Portuguese law prohibits genocide denial.
   • Romania: Emergency Ordinance No. 31 of 13 March 2002 prohibits Holocaust denial. It was ratified on 6 May 2006. The law also prohibits racist, fascist, and xenophobic symbols, uniforms, and gestures, proliferation of which is punishable with imprisonment from between six months to five years.
   • Russian Federation: Russia does not have laws pertaining to Holocaust denial but its penal code provides for the investigation and prosecution of crimes motivated by racial, ethnic, or religious bias.
   • Spain: Genocide denial was illegal until the Constitutional Court of Spain ruled that the words “deny or” were unconstitutional in its judgment of 7 November 2007. As a result, Holocaust denial is legal, although justifying the Holocaust or any other genocide is an offense punishable by imprisonment in accordance with the constitution.
   • Switzerland: Holocaust denial is not expressly illegal, but the denial of genocide and other crimes against humanity is a punishable offence.
   • United States and Great Britain: Holocaust denial is not criminalized in the United States because of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It is also not an offence in the United Kingdom, although laws against libel or inciting racial hatred may apply.

Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. . 2014.

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