NEWS

Greek academics say anti-racism bill risks interference with freedom of expression

More than one hundred Greek historians and academics have expressed reservations over aspects of draft legislation designed to outlaw Holocaust denial and expand prosecution powers against the incitement of racial violence.

A statement signed by 139 experts welcomed government measures to curb racism and racially-motivated violence. However, it expressed concern over Article 2 of the bill which seeks to criminalize denial of the Holocaust and other genocides for impeding freedom of speech.

“Our stance is not based on tolerance of the 'deniers' of hideous crimes, nor from a reluctance to punish criminal acts, but from the conviction that, as international experience has shown, such measures lead to dangerous paths: they impinge on the democratic and inalienable right to freedom of speech,” the statement said.

“Furthermore, [such measures] have proved totally ineffective in fighting racism and Nazism, racism and hate speech,” it said.

The anti-racism bill was approved in principle on Tuesday by Parliament’s summer session. A second vote on the bill’s articles is to be held on Friday.

Greece's Ombudsman said it received complaints of 281 suspected racist and homophobic attacks in the 16 months before May 2013, resulting in four deaths and 135 injuries.

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