Garaudy v. France

European Court of Human Rights
24 June 2003


The applicant, Mr. Garaudy, was an author of a book entitled “The Founding Myths of Modern Israel”. Criminal proceedings were initiated against him on basis of applications submitted by several organizations. These organizations alleged that the applicant had committed the following offences: disputing the existence of crimes against humanity, as well as racial defamation in public and incitement to racial hatred. As a result Mr. Garaudy was found guilty and suspended sentences to imprisonment, fines and obligation to pay compensations were imposed on him.


The applicant claimed that by sentencing him the French courts had violated his freedom of expression.

Court's ruling

The Court found that the applicant’s book ran counter to the fundamental values of the Convention, namely justice and peace. Thus the applicant could not rely on the protection provided by the freedom of expression.

Having analyzed the book concerned, the Court found that:

The applicant questions the reality, extent and seriousness of these historical events that are not the subject of debate between historians, but are clearly established. Thus the work does not constitute a historical research.

The real purpose of this work was to rehabilitate the National-Socialist regime and to accuse the victims of the Holocaust of falsifying history.

The Court emphasized that disputing the existence of crimes against humanity was one of the most severe forms of racial defamation and of incitement to hatred of Jews.

No one could rely on the Convention, in the present case – on the freedom of expression enshrined in it – as a basis for engaging in any act that is contrary to the Convention’s provisions, namely, are aimed at destroying rights and freedoms of other persons.

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Last updated 12/06/2024