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Laws against the Denial of Historical Atrocities: A Human Rights Analysis

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This article ventures into the contentious question of whether the denial of historical atrocities is per se removed from the protection of freedom of expression and the related question if states may under international human rights law proactively combat, through criminal legislation (‘memory laws’), such types of extreme speech. In so doing, the article compares and contrasts approaches employed by the un Human Rights Committee that monitors the un International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights with that of the European Court of Human Rights, regional watchdog of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is argued that both approaches are shifting—though not quite in converging directions. The article makes a case for a contextual rather than exclusively content-based approach. An approach in which the question of ‘likelihood of harm being done to the targeted group’ is guiding, best resonates with the necessity principle.

Affiliations: 1: Erasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands


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