“Proclamations about freedom of expression are a bit like the word ‘democratic’ in the title of a state. It appears most prominently in the titles of states in which it is suppressed most obviously,” Andrew Brons MEP said last week in the European Parliament.
Speaking during a debate on the EU’s Accession to the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Brons said that “both the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights provide that people have or should have freedom of expression.
“In several EU countries and signatories of the Convention, people can be, and are, gaoled for heretical opinions on academic subjects and for political opinions that are disapproved of by the Political Class.
“Perhaps the worst example is the country in which we are now, France,” he continued.
“France, only this year, passed a law prescribing a description of the killing of Armenians in 1915 backed up by criminal penalties.
“Furthermore, people have been prosecuted for the careless use of a word such as ‘debate’ to refer to an historical event,” Mr Brons added, referring to a leading French Front National figure, Bruno Gollnisch, who made that remark about the Holocaust.
“It really doesn’t matter whether or not one dishonest document is judged by the standards of another dishonest document,” Mr Brons continued, referring to the European Union with its document, the Charter of Fundamental Rights: and the Council of Europe with its document, the European Convention on Human Rights.
Speaking later, Mr Brons explained further: “The issue here is whether or not one organisation, the European Union, complies with its obligation under Article 6 of the Lisbon Treaty, and becomes a member of the second organisation, the Council of Europe, and thereby signs up to the Council of Europe’s document, the European Convention on Human Rights.
“When the European Union signs up to the Council of Europe and to its European Convention on Human Rights, there might be a succession of ‘compatibility’ court rulings.
“It might have to be decided whether the national law of a member country is consistent with EU law (if the national law is within an area of EU competence); or it might have to be decided (ultimately by the EU’s Court of Justice) whether the EU law is consistent with the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.
“It might hen have to be decided whether the judgment of the EU’s Court of Justice and the (EU’s) Charter of Fundamental Rights are consistent with the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Human Rights,” Mr Brons said, pointing out that it was all very confusing.