Armenian Bar Association urges action from Switzerland on ECHR ruling

The Armenian Bar Association has addressed letters to the Swiss Ambassadors to the United States and Canada, respectively, calling for the appeal of the European Court of Human Rights’ verdict on the denial of the Armenian Genocide. The ECHR struck down a Swiss law prohibiting the denial of the Armenian Genocide after the trial of Turkish politician and Genocide-denier Doğu Perinçek. Below is the letter sent by the ABA:

“Dear Ambassador,

On December 17, 2013, a Chamber judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter, the “ECHR”), in the case of Perinçek vs. Switzerland (application no. 27510/08), held that Article 261bis, paragraph 4 of the Swiss Criminal Code violates Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The majority judgment is neither final nor binding and the delay to refer the decision to the Grand Chamber of the Court expires on March 17, 2014.

The Armenian Bar Association is the largest, most diverse group of Armenian-American judges, lawyers, law professors and students united by the greatest -and often elusive- universal interest, namely justice. We vigorously condemn what we consider as a blatant travesty of justice.

Given the powerful dissent of Judges Vučinić and Pinto de Albuquerque, we are confident that the Grand Chamber of the Court will agree that the case deserves further examination, to reverse the majority decision and deliver a just final judgment, upholding Swiss Law.

With this non-final ruling, the ECHR casts a shadow of doubt on the veracity of the Armenian Genocide. Under the guise of protecting freedom of expression, the court tramples on universal values against inciting hatred, and abuse of rights. The judgment also risks creating an unfortunate legal precedent for all abhorrent versions of denial and hate speech, thereby establishing a blueprint of immunity that would encourage future perpetrators of genocide.

The decision further enhances the credibility of individuals such as Mr. Doğu Perinçek, who has been convicted to life in prison in Turkey, under conspiracy and various other charges.

The Armenian Bar Association thanks Switzerland for its brave stand on Genocide recognition and denial prevention. We hereby request that you convey our message to the Federal Council of Switzerland, so that it may apply to the ECHR Grand Chamber, if it has not done so already.”

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