* The existence of some laws points to another fundamental divide within Europe : between the established fifteen member-states and the ten which joined in May 2004. Many of the latter (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) routinely use criminal defamation laws to prosecute freedom of speech. "In central Asia and in eastern Europe, this is the single biggest reason for jailing journalists", says Haraszti. "What we want to do is make it an issue of solidarity (with other EU countries)."
These cases do not receive serious publicity, nor have they served as a deterrent for these countries' EU membership. Prosecutions that were already underway at their accession are still continuing.
"I get letters from people in these countries pointing out that other EU countries still have such laws on their books", says Haraszti. The point is echoed by Toby Mendel, who comments that "transition countries" say in effect : "Oh, yes, we have an oppressive law, but that's all right because Germany has it, and France has it, too."
The cases come to court with surprising frequency. OSCE's 2005 Libel and Insult Laws : a matrix on where we stand and what we would like to achieve, reports that fifteen people in Estonia and sixty-five in Hungary served prison sentences for defamation, libel, or insult in 2002-04. In Poland, reputedly the most restrictive country in the European Union over freedom of speech, the numbers accused under defamation laws increased from 6,272 in 2002 to 7,218 people in 2003.
Europe can dismiss or ignore the ongoing criminal defamation cases in the newer EU countries (most of which involve accusations of corruption) as minor ; but the denial of genocide is far more serious. Corruption is regrettable, a social ill - but prosecutions that appear to endorse official suppression of the past and discussion of it strike at the heart of modern European values.