(October 4, 2019 / JNS) Holocaust denial is not a form of freedom of expression protected under the European Human Rights Convention, a top European court ruled on Thursday in regards to a case from nearly a decade ago.
German right-wing extremist Udo Pastoers, who suggested in a 2010 speech that the Holocaust never happened, was convicted in 2012 under Germany’s law against the intentional defamation of Jews. He filed a complaint against the conviction with the European Court of Human Rights in 2014, claiming that his statements were protected by Article 10, which protects freedom of expression.
ECHR judges ruled unanimously that his complaint was “manifestly ill-founded and had to be rejected,” given that he “had intentionally stated untruths in order to defame the Jews and the persecution that they had suffered.”
The judges also rejected his complaint that he was denied a fair trial in Germany.
In Pastoers controversial speech, he said “the so-called Holocaust is being used for political and commercial purposes,” and also referred to a “barrage of criticism and propagandistic lies” and “Auschwitz projections.”
The court said his speech “was a qualified Holocaust denial showing disdain to its victims and running counter to established historical facts.”
“[He] intentionally stated untruths in order to defame Jews and the persecution that they had suffered,” the court explained, adding that such statements “could not attract the protection for freedom of speech” offered by the European Convention on Human Rights “as they ran counter to the values of the Convention itself.”
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