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EU justice chief appeals to member nations to introduce prison terms for Holocaust deniers

EU justice chief appeals to member nations to introduce prison terms for Holocaust deniers

The European Union's top Justice official appealed to EU nations Friday, on the eve of international commemorations to mark the Holocaust, to adopt strict new rules to criminalize denial of the World War II genocide.
EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini said the 27-nation bloc must "finally adopt" tough, new EU-wide rules to criminalize the incitement of hatred and acts of racist violence _ proposals that have been blocked since 2004.
"In our democratic societies, it is possible to fight racist speech through penal law in full respect of the European Convention of Human Rights," Frattini said in a statement.
Germany, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said it would try to secure agreement on the plan during its six-month tenure as EU chair.
The EU plans include the introduction of minimum EU-wide prison terms _ between one and three years _ for those convicted of purposely inciting racist violence or hatred, or those who deny the Holocaust.
Efforts two years ago to set minimum prison terms ended in failure, however, after ministers were unable to agree. Several countries, notably Britain, Italy and Denmark, see such tough measures as overstepping the rights of expression under their national laws.
Frattini said Saturday's commemorations to mark the day in 1945 when the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp _ where more than 1.5 million people perished, most of them Jewish _ was liberated by Soviet troops should not be forgotten.
"We must remind ourselves of how it all became possible," Frattini said. "We must remember how entrenched hatred and prejudice was spread through speech and how it became official state policy, law and practice."
He added that those who purposely deny or minimize the Holocaust "constitute an unacceptable affront not only to the victims of that tragedy and their descendants but also to the whole democratic world."


Updated : 2021-04-23 07:26 GMT+08:00