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OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović expressed concern that the draft law of punishment of those who deny the Armenian allegations regarding the events of 1915, is approved by the Parliament of South Cyprus Administration.The bill, adopted on 2 April, penalizes the denial or the gross degradation of war crimes recognized as such by the Parliament through a unanimous decision or a unanimous resolution.Those convicted face prison terms of up to five years and a €10,000 fine.“While fully acknowledging the humanitarian intentions of this bill, I believe that this measure raises serious concerns about compliance with international freedom of expression standards,” Mijatović said. “The authorities should have taken into consideration the right to openly discuss questions of a sensitive and controversial nature as one of the fundamental aspects of freedom of expression which distinguishes a tolerant and pluralistic democratic society from a repressive regime.”Mijatović said criminalizing debates on history, even including false and offensive statements, is not conducive to a better understanding among people, communities and authorities of OSCE participating States.Mijatović also said that prohibitions on particular statements related to the culture and history of different nations and regions would subordinate international free-speech standards to fragmented national strategies on the regulation of speech and expression and make worse the attempts to reconcile and ultimately seek justice for victims. Free speech and free media are essential in this process, she said.

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