Call for Boycott : ECHR requests explanations from France

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has just forwarded its questions to the French government following the petition filed by the 11 activists convicted following their public call to boycott products imported from Israel.

AFPS Press Release, Saturday 15 April 2017

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Let’s recall that following an action calling for a boycott of products imported from Israel carried out in an Alsatian hypermarket, the activists had been charged with incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence against a group of persons on the basis of their national origin (Article 24 of the Press Law of 1881). They had been discharged by the Mulhouse Court of First Instance in 2011, but then convicted by the Colmar Court of Appeal in 2013. The Court of Cassation having dismissed their appeal on 20 October 2015, a petition was submitted with the ECHR in March 2016 .

The transmission of this request to the French Government by the ECHR constitutes an essential, and positive, first step in the procedure whereby the ECHR confirms the seriousness of the applicants’ plea and requests explanations from France. It allows us to expect that the ECHR will conclude, at the end of the procedure, that the condemnation of these calls for a boycott constituted a violation of freedom of expression.

It brings a new denial, if need be, to those who now claim that the call to boycott of products imported from Israel would be illegal, relying not on the law, silent on this issue, but on a recent case-law of the Court of Cassation, which is inherently subject to change. It is indeed the purpose of the petition to the ECHR to emphasize the detrimental nature of those decisions to the freedom of expression.

Let’s, by the way, recall what the European Union High Representative for Foreign Policy, Mrs Mogherini, replied to a parliamentary query on this point : The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which is applicable on EU Member States’ territory, including with regard to BDS actions carried out on this territory.

This is indeed the confirmation we expect from the ECHR.

The Executive Board of the AFPS