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Statement by Geoffrey Robertson QC and Amal Clooney on today’s European Court of Human Rights Decision in the case of Perincek v Switzerland 15.10.2015


Source Doughty Street International

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45 thoughts on “Statement by Geoffrey Robertson QC and Amal Clooney on today’s European Court of Human Rights Decision in the case of Perincek v Switzerland 15.10.2015

  1. By publishing this statement ,as a Turkish person(trainee lawyer) you give me right to tell fact that basically Amal Clooney and his law firm lost the case ,
    The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Switzerland violated Turkish politician Doğu Perinçek’s right to freedom of speech.
    In its ruling, the court said that Perinçek’s remarks “did not amount to advocacy of hatred or intolerance”.
    It noted that the Swiss courts appeared to have “censured [Perinçek] for having simply expressed an opinion divergent from those held in Switzerland”, and that Perinçek’s conviction had been “unnecessary” to protect the rights of the Armenian community.
    In the next six months, Switzerland will present its intentions to the Committee of Ministers of the European Council, the body that monitors fulfilment of the ECHR court rulings.
    The report must include Switzerland’s plan to “eliminate the consequences of the violation determined in this individual case, as well as to prevent such violations in the future”.
    As you can see it is not a victory for Armenia as the law firm stated ,it is a victory for freedom of speech,so people from now on can freely say ‘Armenian genocide is a lie”


    1. I will post the swiss reaction in another post. It would be better if Turkey respects the freedom of speech in own country. In the Swiss law system to deny a genocide is punished via the Law against racism.


      1. Switzerland did not respect the freedom of speech that was the reason for this case in the first place ,,of course like many other countries Turkey has issues,and surely things will improve in the future,and I am sure your country has some issues too,on the other hand we cant forget the fact that Turkey has accepted 2 million refugees from Syria whereas some countries closed their borders and even some journalist lady kicked the refugees,so lets talk about human rights,humane attitude of very developed and democratic countries.??maybe as human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and that law firm take the case and fights for the rights of refugees pro-bo.. Thank you..


      2. guldzzy, i think you are commiting the same errors as the telegraph and washington post, to only see and write what you want to see. It is very clear and said, that Amal, DCS did not sue Perinceck directly, they were a third party on the hearing. You should read the facts from the DCS and Amal video to understand their participation on the case and hearing. it seems some wish top root for her to fail on her cases, but you must accept when she does not, it was not a loss to either Amal, or Armenia nor DCS, and is important to not make up stuff that is not true!


      1. Oh yes, Oxred, generous is the word. The entire statement construing a victory is based on a few obiter remarks in the judgement, the Grand Chamber itself simply refused to decide on the issue upon which they made their submissions.


      2. As always, I value both of your insights, ESR and OxRed. Not being a lawyer, myself (and not used to reading between the lines in cases), and being too busy with my own work to read all of the official documents in this case, it is incredibly helpful to get the basic gist of things from you both. Thank you. I hope that you both continue to comment here.


  2. I think the victory is in the formal recognition that the Armenian genocide did in fact quite clearly take place and that there is no doubt cast on that event. It is a fact of life that not all people will use the right of freedom of speech to speak the truth. We as a society have the moral and ethical responsibility of keeping an open mind until we have the evidence or facts that either do or don’t support what is being said. In this case fact has clearly been established.


    1. I agree with you Rosa, i see the rulling being affecting only what applies to Switzerland freedon of speech protection, but that is not to say that they have revoqued the fact that the genocie hapened and must be respected. Some just want to make up whatever they want to assume it was a loss when in fact it was not!


    2. Actually, if one reads the judgement, it is clear that the majority of the Grand Chamber’s position was to set aside Robertson and Clooney’s points and say simply that these points were irrelevant to the judgement. They did not explicitly take issue with the lower court’s findings in this respect either (contrary to how Clooney has portrayed this in her interview which massively simplifies the judgement).

      I am at a loss to see how this has been spun to a victory. It is neither a loss nor a victory, according to my reading the court’s position was simply indifference to their submissions. They just said ‘we are not going to decide on this issue, it is not our job’ and even the seven who did state that the genocide was a ‘historical fact’ made those remarks as obiter dicta.


      1. OK, as a non-lawyer, i am a bit on the ironic side now …. the ‘victory’ for Robertson and Clooney lies in the simple fact of not having explicitely ‘lost’ this case :-). (please do note the quitation marks).

        On a much more mundane, stylish side: Mrs Clooney’s hair in this photograph, obviously lacking the poorly needed extensions for the usual pretension of healthyness and fullness, looks gawdawful, dry, overprocessed, worn out and unkempt.

        her own hair is not full enough for providing a good look at this ‘irresistible-sirene-length’, she should cut off 6-7 inches and return to her pre-marriage length. it looked a lot better and healthier then.

        addendum: ESR: your comments are always so very much spot-on, informative and IMO one of the reasons why i even bothered to return reading this blog after a couple of months.


    3. here is the link for European court for human rights Judgment{“itemid”:[“001-158235″]} Perinçek vs Switzeland ,if you would like to read and find out about what the court says ..there is no formal recognition, only 7 out of 17 judges said ‘Armenian Genocide is a clearly established historical fact.’the other 10 judges said they should never have discussed the point at all, as it was out of the Court’s clearly majority agreed that it was out of court jurisdiction..and you say ”keeping an open mind until we have the evidence or facts that either do or don’t support what is being said’ here is the evidence

      ”The Manifesto of Hovhannes Katchaznouni, The First Prime Minister of the Armenian Republic”
      if you read it you will clearly understand if it was a genocide or war .


    4. That’s not the upshot of the full substantive of the ruling at all. In fact it’s more apparent, not less so, following this that, whilst the Grand Chamber, correctly, chose to somewhat absent itself from ANY determination as to “genocide” as a proven (appropriate) term re: events circa 1915, neither was any greater support for the Third Party (DSC) intervention indicated, far less established as incontrovertible “fact”.

      The Grand Chamber (ECHR) made clear that the particulars in this regard are still very much a source of diverging views, in both principle of recognition and State application, within/between different European nations/Convention member states.

      If the intent, as appeared to be so from the content and tone of DSC’s intial submission on behalf of Armenia, was to better (formally) establish more solid concord to recognition of “genocide” as “fact” within this jurisdiction, this ruling failed in achieving that objective.

      On the whole, the ruling was a ‘neutral’ for DSC/Armenia; with some indication ECHR had allowed the Third Party intervention to be heard but were not convinced as to the merit of it insisting itself into proceedings at all.

      As it stands, the case of “genocide” as widely recognised no further established with fewer than a majority of States concerned still maintaining positions of neutral/to non-recognition.

      Indeed, the water may be muddier than before.

      NB: my personal view on the “genocide” question is neither here nor there; this is simply an objective (unspun) reading of this ruling.

      DSC’s statement, naturally, seeks to present any ‘positive’ to be found. Understandable, but not to be taken as wholesale ” fact” fact.


      1. Then, if that is so, then the Swiss Court and laws are a total JOKE!?? Because dont they say in their law that to deny the Armnian masacre of being a genocide, in Switzerland, is punishable by their laws? So is Swiss court contradicting their own law? Either a country stipulates that it was genocide – and if anyone inside their borders to deny and offend so overtley like Perinceck did – is a crime, or else they should not had made such a law? This rulling is quite confusing actually. It contradicts Swiss own laws and makes no sense. It seems more like Perinckeck got out because of some either political or money manipulations, as often is the case.


      2. OnYourFace.

        That is the most remarkable train of thought. I suggest you read the judgement before pronouncing corruption at the ECtHR. The premise of your statement is wrong, and so all that follows is equally misguided.

        There is no Swiss law criminalising denial of Armenian Genocide. The relevant domestic law provisions which the Swiss applied are set out in part II of the judgement from Para 29. Take a look. It does not expressly render genocide denial a crime.

        What this case was about – as indeed what most cases of this nature are about – was the *interpretation* of national law. In other words, were the aforementioned domestic provisions correctly applied by the Swiss courts on these facts? The answer was No.

        There are times where there are compatibility issues between national and EU law – this is not one of those times. Swiss law is not a joke, nor is the ECtHR corrupt. There is nothing confusing about this if one simply takes a deep breath and considers the facts before proceeding any further.


    1. I think I wrote on this before – as Nati says, the wearing of gowns is optional at the ECtHR. I must confess to seeing few advocates wearing gowns at the court myself, and of course if one is to be robed as if one is in the HC or SC, where on earth is the wig? All very puzzling – unless of course one wants to make sure one is “seen” to be a lawyer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ECHR is not typically a gown setting, even for UK (England & Wales, or Scotland) barristers. And Yes, ESR, mufti (professional suited & booted) OR fully robed (wigs inc). Their Grand Chamber hearing attire was notably odd as neither arthur nor martha. I guess it made some point, to/for them. It stuck me as not unlike stage costuming or set dressing tbh.


  3. There’s a few things that bother me here:

    GR QC wrote a book on the Armenian Genocide at the time, that he tried to peddle far and wide….read into that as you will with regards to the whole PR debacle of this issue and case;

    Why does DS Chambers/GR QC/AC feel the need to publicly defend AC’s ‘honour’ and work…..this is the second occasion I am aware of where DSC has taken aim at the media via the DSC website for their portrayal of AC – do they do this for any of their other lawyers….? It is reminiscent of the time George Clooney took aim at the media for alleging Baria was unhappy with their union….why the need to defend, defend, defend…..? I find it odd and slightly irrational.

    I agree with the comments above re the lawyerly spin – unfortunately, they risk becoming a laughing stock amongst their colleagues and peers – and again, one wonders at the reasons behind such a lack of transparency.

    I particularly dislike that the PR machinations George and Amal employ, assume the population is made of idiots. It is undignified.


  4. Mr.Perinçek,(Dr of law) called the Armenian Genocide of 1915 a “great international lie”in a meeting.He was found guilty of racial discrimination by a Swiss district court in Lausanne in March 2007 (breaking Swiss anti-racism laws for allegedly denying that the killing of Armenians).He was sentenced to 90 days imprisonment and fined 3000 Swiss francs.Perinçek then appealed to the ECHR,after almost 10 year legal battle The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Switzerland violated a Turkish politician’s right to freedom of speech.
    This case is a victory for Perinçek and Turkey because
    1- The ECHR judges said that denying the genocide was not an attack on the dignity of individuals in the Armenian community, overruling an Armenian appeal presented in January by Amal Clooney.
    2-For the Turkish citizens in Europe, it is a light of salvation from the ugly discrimination of accusations when they recite their own history, or even worse, being subjected to criminal charges before the courts..
    3-For the Turkish scholars, this judgement heralds the futility of the efforts to silence and subdue them with the psychological and moral pressure of presenting the Armenian narrative as the one and only, the absolute truth and fact.
    4-Within six months at most, Switzerland will report on how it intends to proceed to the Committee of Ministers of the European Council, which is responsible for monitoring the execution by Member States of final judgments. The report must set out the action that Switzerland has taken to eliminate the consequences of the violation determined in this individual case, as well as to prevent such violations in the future.
    5-The ECtHR further noted that the question regarding the legal definition of the Armenian genocide was still open to debate among historians.
    6–Grand Chamber’s judgement is final, meaning there is no appeal to the decision. It is binding, meaning that it is the ultimate legal judgement for forty seven member countries. Also, it establishes a legal precedent for European Court of Human Rights..
    A.Clooney and Mr.Robertson got paid a fortune of course they have said what Armenians wanted to hear as their legal team,..there is always one fact in legal system that is the court decision..


    1. Nati,
      I applaud you for posting guldizzy, ESR and OxRed’s comments and allowing the public to hear other opinions on this matter.


  5. I think the victory is in the formal recognition that the Armenian genocide did in fact quite clearly take place and that there is no doubt cast on that event. maria


    1. Only this judgement cannot be taken as formal recognition of a historical fact. It did not at any time purport to be so, and to that end the statement above and AC’s interview are misleading (at least to those who do not have the time or inclination to scan the lengthy judgement).


  6. Like Erika, Anna and others, I appreciate the professional opinions of ESR and OxRed on cases like this. However, I do notice that they weigh in with criticism, never praise, regarding Amal’s cases and career. Was there nothing positive to say about the final disposition of the Fahmy case, for example? (Though ESR posted a short comment about how this was good news, there was no real analysis of the legal/public relations strategy.) I understand that Amal does not have the same length of training as other barristers, but is there nothing positive to say about her work? Other than wanting to see Amal, or any high-profile professional woman, succeed, I really have no ax to grind on this subject; however, the exclusively critical comments make it seem, rightly or wrongly, that ESR and OxRed’s opinions are not unbiased.


    1. Of course, objectivity is an elusive concept. I make no claims on it. Historians say objectivity is impossible to achieve. In law objectivity is a construct, necessary for function.

      However, before critiquing me for having some negative ‘bias’ I would ask that you address my substantive points – above – and demonstrate the bias you point out. The lack of positive remarks does not a negative bias make.

      The release of Fahmy was excellent news, success for one’s client is always worth congratulating. The reason I was silent on analysis was because I felt there was little to analyse. There is no evidence that any PR strategy was successful – correlation does not causation make. We are entitled to our views. Call me traditional if you will, but I am a fan of hard work and substantive law. Not PR and quasi history. I have very different views on how best law and lawyers can contribute to human rights. So forgive me if I do not attribute the release of Fahmy to several media interviews. If you can prove the causal links, find the positives as you say, then I will accept your arguments.

      Amal’s positive attributes are many – I would never disparage her qualifications and her expertise. Nor have I done so. But I will point out where I believe reporting is misleading. Should you take issue with it, I would prefer a critique of my substantive arguments than vague aspersions of bias. We are all biased in some way or another, you as much as I. What matters is the degree to which it can be shown to affect our analysis. It is up to you to show that my bias has materially affected my analysis.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No need to be so defensive, ESR. I said that I appreciate your professional opinions, very much so. My point was/is that weighing in only with critical commentary makes it seem, “rightly or wrongly” (as I put it) that you and OxRed are predisposed to react negatively.


    2. Janet, I’m an infrequent visitor to this blog (time/other). I have my own appreciation of Style (all manner of walks) but I’m rarely motivated to comment on frocks and such as I’m usually neither up nor down; simply, being hidebound in THAT way (as a woman) lost any interest for me long past… somewhere around the time I made clear (as a 22 year old) that I did not consider it, either, appropriate or desirable for a significant figure (Law Lord, certain think-tank bod) to offer to pin my (Ladies’ side plate orchid favour) to the breast of my dress. That is to say, I understood, and acted upon, setting my own terms re maintaining ‘professional and some glamour (along the way)’ by own lights and definition.

      Perhaps I overly eschewed allowing myself some advantage there, but I have yet to regret it.

      Anyhow, EESR covered the bases in response on principles of “objectivity’ etc.

      ‘If you have the stones to say I can rewrite history to my own specifications, you can get away with it’ – James Ellroy [perhaps, Clooney PR too].

      BUT, fyi, I did consider giving a view in regards Fahmy (apparent resolution) but rather suspect my views, if (very) detailed, wouldn’t have met your threshold as ‘Amal positive’ either. I chose to stay myself as absent on an Ends justifying Means, just (and little favourable re: actual Law), rationale.

      Even moreso, I will, for now at least, refrain re: all aspect Maldives because, even on a Style blog, I don’t want to, properly, get stuck in vis a vis Law (proper) and PR – Amal(law) [abuse/misconstructions]; however, Genser’s Social Media pushes acceptable boundaries.

      So, actually I (and, I suspect, others) are staying their hands, somewhat, in the name of ‘objectivity’ and not being as perhaps harshly dismissive as might/warranted.

      I would never desire to seek to undermine any other with authentic (note earned) position; neither do I dishonestly contort to significantly credit those unduly advanced ahead of all the actualities. In this, NOT just (but mainly) Law.

      Like ERS, I’m simply looking to assess and post to balance beyond the hype; hype which seems increasingly less substantial but ore calculated by design, unfortunately.


    1. Yes Oxred, that old chestnut. I was, as are many lawyers, a historian in a former life! And – worth noting – given my enthusiasm for history, I have plenty of views on the way AC and Geoffrey Roberson argued this particular case (essentially inviting a court to declare a historical fact ?!?!) – but I refrained from airing them. That is a conversation for another day!


      1. A question to ESR and OxRED:

        are you male or female? By reading you both my guess is you are male, am i right?


      2. Wow. I am more interested in how you can determine a person’s gender from their writing?

        PS. Read OxRed a little more carefully – she described herself as female above.


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