Spotlight on Switzerland this week in transitional justice. A Swiss court was wrong to convict and fine a Turkish politician for calling the Armenian genocide an “international lie”, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Thursday. The judges found in their landmark ruling that Dogu Perinçek’s words “could not be regarded as affecting the dignity of the members of the Armenian community to the point of requiring a criminal law response" in Switzerland, because they “did not amount to a call for hatred or intolerance” against Armenians. In a subtle and controversial distinction, the ECHR said this ruling did not apply to denial of the genocide perpetrated against Jews by the Nazis. Sanctioning Holocaust denial is justifiable, the court said, because it could always be "seen as a form of incitement to racial hatred".
Freedom of expression on the one hand and anti-Semitism on the other. It is worth noting that the ECHR was not called to rule on the undeniable historical truth of the Armenian genocide. The Switzerland-Armenia Association said it was deeply shocked by the differentiation made by the court.
Switzerland was also the focus of a manual on universal jurisdiction published by the NGO TRIAL, with support from Amnesty International.
According to a lawyer at TRIAL interviewed by JusticeInfo.Net, Switzerland has one of the best legal frameworks for prosecuting dictators and suspected criminals who come to the country to live or get health treatment, but there is a lack of political will and not enough resources.
JusticeInfo.Net reported in a scoop that the European Union is to set up a court in The Hague on suspected organ trafficking in Kosovo, which was the subject of a 2010 report by Swiss politician and former state prosecutor Dick Marty. The court is to be officially based in Kosovo, but all “sensitive proceedings”, including hearing of witnesses, will take place outside that country, to protect against influence from criminal networks and local authorities. The suspected ringleader of this trafficking, which involved killing people to remove their kidneys and export them, is former Prime Minister of Kosovo Hashim Thaqi, who is now Foreign Minister.
Transitional justice made progress in Mali where all members of the Truth and Justice Commission have now been appointed and can start work. The Commission’s deputy chairperson is Nina Wallet Intalou, whom French newspaper Le Monde has called the “pasionaria” of the Touaregs. At the same time, pro-government armed groups (federated under what is known as the “Plateforme”) and rebels of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) announced on Thursday they have finally sealed a peace deal after several days of talks. It is hoped the peace deal will restore Mali to stability nearly three years after the French-led military intervention started (January 2013) against Jihadists who had seized the north of the country.
The Central African Republic, which saw more violence at the end of the week in a Moslem district of Bangui, has still not announced a new electoral calendar. Meanwhile, Guineans re-elected President Alpha Conde in the first round of elections which international observers said were generally fair.