Faurisson v France

The claimant, a university professor, gave an interview in a magazine in which he doubted the existence of gas chambers for extermination purposes at Auschwitz and in other Nazi concentration camps. This was contrary to the Gayssot Act which makes it an offence to contest the existence of the category of crimes against humanity committed by Nazi leaders on trial in Nuremburg. For this offence, he was convicted and fined.

In front of the UN Human Rights Committee, the claimant argued that the Gayssot Act curtailed the right to freedom of expression and academic freedom in general guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Coveneant on Cultural and Political Rights (ICCPR). He claimed that these provisions constituted unacceptable censorship, obstructing and penalising historical research.

The UN Human Rights Committee found that his conviction did not encroach on his right to hold and expression opinion. Instead, he had been convicted for violating the rights and reputations of others. Consequently, the Gayssot Act was in compliance with the ICCPR.

The Committee held that the statements of the author were of a nature as to raise or strengthen anti-semitic feelings, so the restriction served to allow the Jewish community to live free from fear and from an atmosphere of anti-semitism.

URL Link: http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/undocs/html/VWS55058.htm

Author Organisation: UN Human Rights Committee