Application Number 31159/96
European Commission of Human Rights
The applicant had written an article doubting the existence of gas chambers at Struthof-Natzweiler concentration camp. The EComHR found the application to be manifestly ill-founded.
Theme(s): Genocide Denial (Holocaust)
Date: 24 June 1996
Description of applicant(s): Citizen
Brief description of facts: The applicant wrote a three-page article during which he doubted the existence of gas chambers at Struthof-Natzweiler concentration camp. He was fined and ordered to pay damages to the associations that had joined the proceedings.
(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Victims of Holocaust
The Commission’s assessment of the impugned speech: The Commission found that the real purpose of the article was, under a guise of scientific discussion, to deny the use of gas chambers to commit genocide. It held that, if he exercised his freedom of expression this would contribute to the destruction of the rights and freedoms of the Convention. It made reference to Article 17 and then concluded by making reference to the applicability of Article 10(2) and found the application to be manifestly ill-founded.
Important paragraphs from the judgment:
The Commission considers that the applicant’s article runs counter to basic ideas of the Convention, as expressed in its preamble, namely justice and peace. It considers that the applicant attempts to deflect Article 10 from its real purpose by using his right to freedom of expression for ends which are contrary to the text and spirit of the Convention, and which if admitted would contribute to the destruction of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention.
ECHR Article: Article 17 (unclear whether Article 10(2) or 17 was relied on)
Decision: Manifestly ill-founded
Use of ‘hate speech’ by the Commission in its assessment? No