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Perinçek v. Switzerland (Eur. Ct. H.R.)

  • Uladzislau Belavusau (a1)

On October 15, 2015, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the case of Perinçek v. Switzerland. The judgment contested a criminal provision applied in Switzerland against a Turkish politician who had publicly denied a historical fact of the Armenian genocide. Notwithstanding variations in reasoning, the outcome in the Grand Chamber is similar to the previous decision of the Chamber on this case in 2013. The Swiss criminal provision applied in the context of the denial of the Armenian genocide was again found irreconcilable with freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

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1 Perinçek v. Switzerland, Eur. Ct. H.R. (2015), [hereinafter Judgment].

2 Perinçek v. Switzerland, Eur. Ct. H.R. (2013), http:// [hereinafter Second Section Judgment].

3 Donald E. Miller & Lorna Touryan Miller, Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide (1993).

4 Fatma Müge Göçek, Denial Of Violence: Ottoman Past, Turkish Present, and Collective Violence against the Armenians, 1789–2009 (2014).

5 Judgment, supra note 1, ¶ 13.

6 Schweizerisches Strafgesetzbuch [StGB] [Criminal Code] Dec. 21, 1937, SR 757 (1938), as amended by Art. 1 of the Federal Act of June 18, 1993, AS 1994 2887 2888; BBl 1992 III 269 (1994), art. 261bis, para. 4 (Switz.).

7 Second Section Judgment, supra note 2.

8 Judgment, supra note 1, ¶ 99.

9 Id. ¶¶ 229-41.

10 Id. ¶¶ 242-48.

11 Id. ¶¶ 272-73.

12 Id. ¶¶ 258-68.

13 Id. ¶¶ 274-82.

14 Id. ¶ 250.

15 Id. ¶¶ 291-300.

16 Id. (Partly Concurring and Partly Dissenting Opinion of Judge Nussberger).

17 Id. (Joint Dissenting Opinion of Judges Spielmann, Casade-vall, Berro, De Gaetano, Sicilianos, Silvis and Kuüris).

18 Id. (Additional Dissenting Opinion of Judge Silvis, Joined by Judges Casadevall, Berro and Kuüris).

19 Id. ¶¶ 209-12.

20 Id. ¶¶ 52–99.

21 Id. ¶¶ 173–95. These included, inter alia, the Turkish government, Armenian government, French government, Federation of the Turkish Association of French-speaking Switzerland, and French and Belgian academics.

22 E.g., Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Written Declaration of 24 April 2001 No. 320 – Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Doc. 9056 (2001); Resolution on a Political Solution to the Armenian Question, Eur. Parl. Doc. A2-33/87 (1987); European Parliament Resolution of 15 April 2015 on the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide, Eur. Parl. Doc. 2015/2590(RSP) (2015).

23 See Belavusau, Uladzislau, Memory Laws and Freedom of Speech: Governance of History in European Law, in Comparative Perspectives on the Fundamentals of the Freedom of Expression 537 (Koltay, Andraás ed., 2015).

* This text was reproduced and reformatted from the text available at the European Court of Human Rights website (visited October 1, 2016),


1 For an in-depth analysis of both the existence of the crimes and the intentional element on the part of those who perpetrated them, see Kieser, Hans-Lukas and Bloxham, Donald, in The Cambridge History of the First World War, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015, Vol. I, “Global War”, Ch. 22 (Genocide), pp. 585614

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International Legal Materials
  • ISSN: 0020-7829
  • EISSN: 1930-6571
  • URL: /core/journals/international-legal-materials
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