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Belgium to pass law that makes denial of genocide illegal
The federal parliament will vote later this month to adopt an EU directive making it illegal to deny that genocides took place. The announcement coincided with Charles Michel’s speech in Kigali at the weekend during the ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.
In Belgium, the plan is to add an article to the anti-racism law from 1981 that makes it illegal to deny or grossly minimise genocides recognised by the International Criminal Court in The Hague or other UN tribunals. That currently means the Rwandan and the Bosnian genocides.
The law will also make it illegal to defend or to justify the genocides, including on social media. There is already a negationist law from 1995 that applies the same regulations to the Holocaust.
“The Rwandan genocide has left very deep wounds in its victims,” said federal justice minister Koen Geens. “We very much sympathise with them. The minimising of these horrific crimes can, under no circumstances, be allowed. So we are going to make negation of internationally recognised genocides illegal.”
‘Failure of international community’
Michel, in the meantime, spoke at the Belgian Memorial at Camp Kigali, paying his respects to the 10 Belgian peacekeepers who were tortured and murdered on 7 April, shortly after the assassination of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi.
Following the murders, Belgium and France began evacuations of their citizens and have since been criticised, along with other western nations, for not doing enough to stop the onset of the genocide, which killed some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu.
Michel went on to speak at the Rwandan capital’s commemoration event at the Convention Centre. “I bow, in the name of my country, to all the victims and their families,” said Michel. “I bow, with deep respect and with all possible words of support and strength. Yes, we must dare to say that it was a failure of the international community to prevent this genocide, to stop these crimes against humanity. In the name of my country, I want to look you directly in the eye and assume this responsibility for what happened.”
Photo: Prime minister Charles Michel at the Belgian Memorial at Camp Kigali, where 10 peacekeepers were killed