Faurisson v. France
Human Rights Committee
Comm. No. 550/1993, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/58/D/550/1993 (1996)
Robert Faurisson (plaintiff) was employed as a university professor in France (defendant) until he made statements insisting that there were no gas chambers used to exterminate Jewish people at Auschwitz or any other Nazi-era concentration camps. In July 1990, France passed the Gayssot Act (the act), which amended France’s law relating to the freedom of the press to make it a crime to contest the existence of the crimes against humanity for which Nazi officials were convicted during the Nuremberg trials. Not long after the act passed, Faurisson was interviewed about the act, and he expressed his concerns about how the act might affect freedoms related to research and expression. During the interview, Faurisson took the opportunity to express his views regarding the existence of the gas chambers. Faurisson stated that he had great reasons for not believing in magic gas chambers or that the Nazis had ever pursued a policy of exterminating Jewish people. Faurisson also stated that he wished that everyone in France would recognize that the notion of gas chambers was a myth and a fabrication. Faurisson stated that he could not be made to believe that there were no problems with the Nuremberg trials any more than he could be made to believe that the earth was flat. The magazine published Faurisson’s interview in September 1990. Various associations and persons who had survived concentration camps in Germany brought a private criminal suit against Faurisson and the magazine’s editor. Faurisson and the editor were convicted for contesting crimes against humanity and fined. In 1991 Faurisson was removed from his position. Faurisson submitted a communication to the Human Rights Committee, alleging that his freedom of expression had been violated under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the covenant). Article 19 of the covenant acknowledged the right to freedom of expression and permitted restrictions that were legally prescribed and necessary to protect the rights and reputations of other people. Also, Article 20 prohibited incitement to discrimination or hostility through advocating racial and religious hatred. France argued that the act was passed to combat racism and antisemitism. France’s minister of justice stated that denial of the Holocaust was the key instigator of antisemitism.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
Concurrence (Lallah, J.)
Concurrence (Evatt, Kretzmer, J.J.)
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