Comments on the Decision of the French Constitutional Council Regarding the Constitutionality of the Memory Law or loi Gayssot
Keywords:memory law, freedon of expression, equality before the law, constitutionality of law, crime against humanity
The decision QPC 2015 – 512 of the French Constitutional Council regarding the constitutionality of loi Gayssot, one of the French memory laws, reflects the ongoing debate on the legitimacy of the state to enforce laws criminalizing the denial of certain historical events, which, in the context of loi Gayssot, are the crimes against humanity committed during World War II. Such attempt to build a collective memory might result in the state being the only writer of the history and the freedom of historians as well as individuals to search for truth and to interpret historical events being infringed. This paper aims at explaining the background of existing memory laws in France before analyzing the aforementioned decision of Constitutional Council both on procedural aspects in which the Applicant relies on the method of priority preliminary rulings on the issue of constitutionality (Question Prioritaire de Constitutionnalité - QPC) as enshrined in Article 61-1 of the French Constitution of 1958 and on substantive aspects addressing the issues of freedom of expression and the principle of equality before the law respectively.