Call for boycott : The European Court of Human Rights seeks clarification from France

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

Communiqué of the Association France-Palestine Solidarity, Friday April 14, 2017

We recall that, after a call to boycott products imported from Israel was carried out in an Alsatian supermarket, the activists were charged with provocation to discrimination, hatred, or violence toward a group of persons because of their national origin (article 24 of the Press Law of 1881). They were acquited by the High Court of Mulhouse in 2011, then convicted by the Colmar Appeals Court in 2013. After the Court of Cassation dismissed their subsequent appeal on October 20, 2015, the case was appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in March 2016.

The submission of this request to the French government by the ECHR constitutes a first essential and positive step of the procedure, by means of which the ECHR recognizes the serious nature of the appeal and demands that France provide explanations. It gives us reason to hope that, by the end of the appeals process, the ECHR will have concluded that the conviction of the activists for their boycott calls constitutes a violation of freedom of expression.

It gives the lie once more, in case there were any doubt, to those who are claiming today that the call to boycott products imported from Israel is illegal, basing their claim not on the law, which is silent on the matter, but rather on the recent jurisprudence of the Court of Cassation, which by nature is subject to evolving. And indeed, the purpose of the appeal to the ECHR is to underline how these decisions are injurious to freedom of expression.

We remind you as well how Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, responded to a parliamentary question 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.”

It is precisely the confirmation of this policy that we are awaiting from the ECHR.

The national bureau of the AFPS