Pierre Péan will be tried in appeal for his book
writer Pierre Péan who, in his book "Black Furies, White Liars (Noires
Fureurs, Blancs Menteurs)" had mentioned that Tutsis were affected by a
"lying culture" and especially called into question the historiography
of the Rwandan genocide, will again be tried before an appeal chamber at
the request of the association S.O.S Racisme and of the Paris
November last year, the 17th chamber of the first instance criminal
court had acquitted him of the accusations of slander and provocation to
racial hatred. Freedom of expression, a fundamental principle set up by
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, can only be sanctioned for
attacks envisaged by the law. It had reminded while affirming even if
certain remarks of the investigating journalist were shocking his
formulations do not constitute, therefore, public and racial slander,
nor a provocation to racial discrimination.
Following the publication in 2005 of the book “Black Furies, White
Liars”, S.O.S Racisme, a French association against racism, filed a
complaint. Other organizations such as the Human Rights League had
refused to take this step. S.O.S Racisme, considers that Péan, by
showing Tutsis “to resort systematically to lying and dissimulation,
while employing doubtful and fraudulent manoeuvres, with the only aim of
misleading the international community relating to the accuracy of its
cause”, attacked “the honour and the consideration of this ethnicity”.
offences of slander and provocation to commit discrimination are
governed in France by the law on the freedom of the press of 1881.
Article 29 of this law, which has never been modified, states that “any
allegation or charge of a fact which attacks the honour or the
consideration of the person or the body to which the fact is charged is
slander”. The fact that this allegation is made against a “group of
people due to their origin or their membership or their non-membership
to an ethnic group, a nation, a race or a given religion” worsens the
17th chamber of the first instance criminal court, called "chamber of
the press", estimated that to be so the infringement would have needed
that the allegation be presented “as a precise articulation of facts
likely to be, without difficulty, the object of evidence and a
contradictory debate”. It noted that, “placed in its context, the
culture formulation of the lie and dissimulation cannot be regarded as
the charge of a precise fact aiming at discrediting the whole of
Tutsis”. It also estimated that the remarks do not target Tutsis as a
according to the chamber, would have badly translated the term ubwenge.
Certain witnesses considered that he even interpreted in a “summary and
ambiguous” way. Experts called by the defence saw there a “particular
form of intelligence”.
the provocation to racial discrimination against a person or a group as
described above, it is article 24 of the law of 1881 which sanctions it.
The chamber defines provocation as “the incitement of the public to
discrimination, hatred or violence towards the group considered”. While
admitting that the formulation employed “can legitimately hurt those he
targeted”, it does not constitute, therefore, such an incitement. The
French law imposes that these offences, called violations of the press
laws, were committed by the way of the publication whose various means
are enumerated in article 23 of the law of 1881.