Friday, February 09, 2007
People who question the official history of recent conflicts in Africa and the Balkans could be jailed for up to three years for "genocide denial", under proposed EU legislation.This shows how far down this particular slippery slope to totalitarianism we are. In theory this could mean that if it could be made impossible for our own leaders to deny their responsibilty for such things as the Krajina & Dragodan massacres or to dispite that the prime genocide at Srebrenica was our ally Nasir Oric's (I would be opposed to that too - I want them to face a fair trial) but in practice I very much doubt if it would work that way. This shows, yet again, that whenever governments bring in laws to restrict freedom citing allegedly noble causes they very quickly descend to using the powers for more sordid purposes.
Germany, current holder of the EU's rotating presidency, will table new legislation to outlaw "racism and xenophobia" this spring.
Included in the draft EU directive are plans to outlaw Holocaust denial, creating an offence that does not exist in British law.
But the proposals, seen by The Daily Telegraph, go much further and would criminalise those who question the extent of war crimes that have taken place in the past 20 years...........
The draft text states: "Each member state shall take the measures necessary to ensure that the following intentional conduct is punishable: 'publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in'... the Statute of the ICC."
General Lewis MacKenzie, the former commander of UN peacekeepers in Bosnia, courted controversy two years ago by questioning the numbers killed at Srebrenica in 1995.
He took issue with the official definition of the massacre as genocide and highlighted "serious doubt" over the estimate of 8,000 Bosnian fatalities. "The math just doesn't support the scale of 8,000 killed," he wrote.
Balkans human rights activists have branded Gen MacKenzie an "outspoken Srebrenica genocide denier" and, if approved, the EU legislation could see similar comments investigated by the police or prosecuted in the courts after complaints from war crimes investigators or campaigners.
A German government spokesman said: "Whether a specific historic crime falls within these definitions would be decided by a court in each case."....
Even without the threat of prosecution, there is concern that academics will try to avoid controversy by ignoring or even suppressing research that challenges genocide claims or numbers of those killed.
David Chandler, the professor of international relations at the University of Westminster's Centre for the Study of Democracy, fears that the draft law could inhibit his work.
"My work teaching and training researchers, and academic work more broadly, is focused upon encouraging critical thinking. Measures like this make academic debate and discussion more difficult," he said.
Prof Chandler also worries that the legislators will close down democratic debate on foreign policy. "Genocide claims and war crimes tribunals are highly political and are often linked to controversial Western military interventions. Should this be unquestioned? Is it right for judges to settle such arguments?" he asked.
If I was not opposed to membership of the EU on economic grounds I would oppose it now on the grounds that it is clearly very suitable as an instrument to restrict human freedom. Unfortunately yet again Germany proves that Nazism was not a dictatorship imposed unwillingly on Germany but a manifestation of the evil endemic to German culture.