NICOSIA, Cyprus—Cyprus lawmakers on Monday agreed to amend the language of legislation pending in the parliament, which would criminalize the denial of the genocide, stipulating that the said genocide must have been recognized by the legislature, reported the Cyprus Mail.
The matter is fundamentally about the Armenian Genocide, and resurfaced last week due to the upcoming visit to Cyprus of the speaker of the Armenian National Assembly to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
As it stands, the law states that denial of crimes against humanity and genocide is a criminal offence only where the crime in question has been recognized by irrevocable decision of an international court.
Cyprus is among 22 countries that have recognized the Armenian genocide
House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou was keen to add a clause to the legislation, making genocide denial a criminal offence whether it has been recognized by an international court or by a resolution of the Cyprus parliament.
Following debate at the House legal affairs committee on Monday, the parties took on board Omirou’s legislative proposal, but with a modification – denial of genocide will constitute a criminal offence only where the House resolution recognizing that genocide was unanimous.
Omirou had wanted the law amended before or during the visit here by Galust Sahakyan, speaker of the Armenian National Assembly.
Sources from the ruling DISY party told the Mail that the House may hold an extraordinary session of the plenum on Thursday morning, before the scheduled plenary, to pass the legal amendment.
Sahakyan, due on the island on Wednesday, is on Thursday afternoon scheduled to address the House of Representatives.
Cyprus was the first European country (and the second worldwide, after Uruguay) to officially recognise the Armenian genocide. On April 24, 1975, Resolution 36 was voted unanimously by the House of Representatives.
Given that decision was unanimous, the criminalization amendment now being proposed should automatically apply to the Armenian Genocide.
Under the law, the denial or “flagrant downgrading” of recognised war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, provided the crime has been recognised by an international court, is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of 10,000 euros or $ 10740.40.