EU to Seal Deal on 'Diluted' Legislation Criminalising Denial of the Holocaust ; EUROPE

By Castle, Stephen | The Independent (London, England), April 19, 2007 | Go to article overview
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EU to Seal Deal on 'Diluted' Legislation Criminalising Denial of the Holocaust ; EUROPE


Castle, Stephen, The Independent (London, England)


Holocaust denial will be punishable by jail terms across the EU - but only if it incites violence or hatred against specific groups - under measures due to be agreed today.

After six years of negotiation, the agreement is likely to be sealed, despite pressure from Baltic states for the crimes committed by Stalin to be brought into the scope of the law.

In 2005, Luxembourg tried to use its EU presidency to push through tough EU-wide legislation on the subject but was blocked by Italy's centre-right government, which has lost power. Last year the temperature rose again following the publication by a Danish newspaper of 12 caricatures of the Prophet Mohamed, sparking protests that highlighted European divisions about freedom of expression.

Consensus over the deal has been achieved by whittling away at the impact of the legislation, leaving a great deal of discretion to individual countries to implement their own law.

British officials said yesterday that the text would require no legal changes in the UK, which has long punished incitement to racial hatred and last year passed a Religious and Racial Hatred Act. They say that academic freedom to question aspects of the Holocaust or other historical events would not be compromised in Britain.

The latest draft text would criminalise those guilty of "publicly condoning or grossly trivialising" crimes of genocide recog-nised by the International Criminal Court "when the conduct is carried out in a manner likely to incite violence or hatred".

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