FRANCE | ISRAEL: European top human rights court rules against France in Israel boycott case

On 11 June 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a unanimous decision. In this landmark case}] , the Court stated that France had violated the right to freedom of expression of several activists who had called for the boycott of Israeli products. They had previously been condemned by French judges who claimed the campaigners’ calls incited to hatred and discrimination. The ECHR judges found, on the contrary, that such calls to boycott constituted peaceful criticism of Israel’s government’s policies and were not to be conflated with anti-Semitic hate speech.

In 2017, FIDH and its French member organisation LDH had submitted a third-party intervention for the Court’s consideration. Our organisations had highlighted the importance for the judges to differentiate between necessary protection of the right to freedom of expression and the legitimate fight against hate speech and incitement to violence. Our submission insisted on the importance for the Court to conduct a nuanced analysis of the statements in question and their context – an approach the Court ultimately followed.

This historical decision reaffirms the Court’s commitment to protecting freedom of expression and, doing so, constitutes a major victory for human rights in Europe. We hope this decision will empower citizens and human rights defenders worldwide to continue speaking out against Israel’s violations of international law.

See also FIDH supports the right to participate in and call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions

Read more