Holocaust Denial - Laws Against Holocaust Denial

Laws Against Holocaust Denial

Holocaust denial is explicitly or implicitly illegal in 17 countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Switzerland. The European Union's Framework decision on Racism and Xenophobia states that denying or grossly trivializing "crimes of genocide" should be made "punishable in all EU Member States". Slovakia criminalized denial of fascist crimes in general in late 2001; in May 2005, the term "Holocaust" was explicitly adopted by the penal code and in 2009, it became illegal to deny any act regarded by an international criminal court as genocide. The Parliament of Hungary adopted the most recent legislation, which declared denial or trivialization of the Holocaust a crime punishable by up to three years imprisonment, in February 2010.

Such legislation remains controversial. In October 2007, a tribunal declared Spain's Holocaust denial law unconstitutional. In 2007 Italy rejected a denial law proposing a prison sentence of up to four years. In 2006 the Netherlands rejected a draft law proposing a maximum sentence of one year on denial of genocidal acts in general, although specifically denying the Holocaust remains a criminal offense there. The United Kingdom has twice rejected Holocaust denial laws. Denmark and Sweden have also rejected such legislation.

A number of deniers have been prosecuted under various countries' denial laws. French literature professor Robert Faurisson, for example, was convicted and punished under the Gayssot Act in 1990. Some historians oppose such laws, among them Vidal-Naquet, an outspoken critic of Faurisson, on the grounds that denial legislation imposes "historical truth as legal truth." Other academics favor criminalization. Holocaust denial, they contend, is "the worst form of racism and its most respectable version because it pretends to be a research." In the Belgian Senate the Minister of Justice Laurette Onkelinx compared laws criminalizing Holocaust denial with those condemning incitement to ethnic or racial hatred in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

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