Perinçek v. Switzerland: Armenia expects a fair judgement in Genocide denial case

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights is expected to deliver a judgment in the case of Perinçek v. Switzerland on 15 October. On this occasion he Armenian delegation led by RA Prosecutor General Gevorg Kostanyan has left for Strasbourg.

Armenia has been involved in the case as a third party. The involcement of the Republic of Armenia became possible due to the Court’s position not to address the legal wording of the Armenian Genocide, and, therefore,  not address the substantial issues related to the crimes committed by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians in 1915. Nevertheless, in its judgment it has referred to the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide and made evaluative assessments principally unacceptable for Armenia. The judgment also included a number of contradictory assessments.

The Republic of Armenia expects a fair verdict, which will not contain formulations that will cast doubt on the fact of the Armenian Genocide in historical, legal or any other context. The aim is to prevent the judgment of the European Court from becoming a tool in the hands of the Armenian Genocide deniers who will try to use it for their immoral purposes.

Reminder: The case concerns Turkish national Doğu Perinçek and his acts of  spreading racism and nationalism. He is the chairman of the Turkish Workers’ Party and represents himself as a doctor of laws. During the months of May, July and September of 2005, Perinçek participated in three public events in cities of Lausanne, Opfikon and Köniz, Switzerland, in the course of which he publicly denied that mass deportations and massacres suffered by the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 onwards had amounted to genocide. More specifically, he qualified the Armenian Genocide as an “international lie”.

On July 2005, the Switzerland-Armenia Association lodged a complaint against Perinçek on account of the content of his statements made at the above-mentioned events. Following this complaint, on 9 March 2007 the Lausanne District Police Court found him guilty of the offence of racial discrimination under Article 261 bis § 4 of the Swiss Criminal Code. The Lausanne District Police Court held that Perinçek’s speech on denial of the Armenian Genocide had racist motives, was nationalistic by its nature and cannot be considered to be within the historical discussion or debate. The Lausanne District Police Court has also mentioned that according to Swiss public opinion the Armenian Genocide is a universally proven event and proven historical fact. With this reasoning the court sentenced Perinçek to imprisonment and fine.

Perinçek appealed against the judgment of the Lausanne District Police Court in different instances, but to no avail.

In his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, Doğu Perinçek has claimed that his criminal conviction and punishment for having publicly denied the Armenian Genocide was in breach of his right to freedom of expression under Article 10.

A Grand Chamber hearing in case of Perinçek v. Switzerland was held on 28 January 2015.

The members of the legal team led by Gevorg Kostanyan, the Government Agent before the ECtHR, RA Prosecutor General are Arman Tatoyan, RA Deputy Minister of Justice, Deputy Agent before the ECtHR, Emil Babayan, Prosecutor General, Geoffrey Robertson, the founder of London Doughty Street Chambers, a well-known international lawyer, Amal Clooney and Toby Collis, well-known international lawyers.

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