The European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) in Strasbourg has ruled that a French criminal conviction against BDS activists involved in a campaign to boycott products imported from Israel had no sufficient grounds and violated their freedom of expression.
France’s highest appeals’ court in 2015 upheld rulings that convicted twelve members of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the basis of inciting racism and anti-Semitism. They were sentenced over the distribution of leaflets in supermarkets in eastern France and wearing T-shirts calling for the boycott of Israeli products.
The EHCR said there was little scope in European conventions for restrictions on political speech and that its very nature was to be controversial and virulent as long as it did not cross the line and call for violence, hatred or intolerance.
“The Court considered that the applicants’ conviction had lacked any relevant or sufficient grounds,” the ruling said.
France was ordered to pay 27,380 euros ($31,150) to each campaigner.
Israel considers the BDS movement as motivated by antisemitism and a desire to delegitimize the Jewish state.