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Thursday, October 12, 2006

French assembly passes controversial Armenian genocide law opposed by Turkey
Katerina Ossenova at 10:40 AM ET

[JURIST] The French lower house of parliament, the National Assembly [official website], approved an internationally-controversial bill [legislative materials] Thursday that imposes monetary penalties and jail time on anyone who denies that there was an Armenian genocide [ANI backgrounder] early in the twentieth century. The bill, which passed 106-19, sets a one year prison term and 45,000 euro ($56,570) fine for those gainsaying the death of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. While France’s approximately 500,000 citizens of Armenian origin are pushing for the bill, it could still take time to become law, as both the Senate and the French president have yet to ratify it. Turkey [CIA factbook; JURIST news archive] denies the allegation of genocide [JURIST comment], vehemently opposes the legislation, and has warned that its ratification could strain ties with France. It has urged [JURIST report] the European Union [official website] to oppose the bill and has said it will consider trade sanctions [JURIST report]. Ahead of the National Assembly action Thursday, Turkish papers speculated [AFP report] on whether the bill was designed to delay or even stymie Turkey’s membership negotiations [JURIST report] with the European Union.

On Wednesday, Turkish lawmakers in that country's parliament [official website] debated a retaliatory bill [JURIST report] that would label the mass killing of Algerians by France during the colonial period as genocide [JURIST report] and would make it illegal to deny that the French were responsible. The parliament's Justice Committee nonetheless concluded that there was little support for the measure and deferred it to a subcommittee for further review. Reuters has more.






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