Freedom of Expression is a Human Right

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The OSCE considers freedom of expression a fundamental human right. This freedom may only be limited in order to safeguard other basic rights, such as human dignity, for a very good reason: freedom of expression is the foundation for other human rights, especially freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly as well as academic freedom. Without the freedom to voice opinions publicly and freely receive information, all other freedoms would not exist. The side event addressed the constitutional implementation of freedom of expression in the OSCE region. The primary focus will be on the treatment of freedom of expression as a negative and individual right, which with respect to the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (UNDHR) can only be granted to humans. Competing concepts of group rights as well as hate speech and blasphemy laws will be considered in light of the UNDHR and individual rights.

Transcript of Freedom of Expression is a Human Right

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and a basic component of a democratic society. OSCE Commitment, Budapest 1994 (similar: Vienna 1989, Copenhagen 1990, Istanbul 1999)
  • Freedom of expression explicitly comprises information or ideas that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population. European Court of Human Rights 1997
  • The European Parliament, [] is aware of the use of defamation, blasphemy and libel laws, as well as legislation referring to the degrading of the countrys image abroad [] in order to imprison or censor journalists and block free expression. European Parliament resolution of 13 June 2013
  • The EU should [] firmly oppose any attempt to criminalise freedom of speech in relation to religious issues, such as blasphemy laws. European Parliament recommendation to the Council of 13 June 2013
  • Limitations to freedom of expression: other human/basic rights, i.e., human dignity and physical integrity the dignity of a god, prophet or religion cant be a legally protected right
  • Principle of the separation of power: an independent court has to judge but in no way politics
  • Restrictions [] have to be understood as exceptions to the general rule that individual freedom must be respected. OSCE Human Dimension Commitments Handbook
  • Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari'ah. Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari'ah. Information [] may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, [] corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith. The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (Art. 22)
  • So what? 1) UN-Bodies, e.g., Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) 2) Resolution 16/18 or Rabat Plan of Action leads to custom law forces states to change their laws
  • Bavarian State Office for Constitutional Protection and other German authorities Fatal conceptual blending of Islamophobia, hostility toward Islam, hostility toward Muslims or anti-Muslim racism.
  • You can say that Muhammad married a six-year-old girl and consummated the marriage when she was nine. Calling this pedophilia constitutes an excessive value judgment. Court ruling December 2011, case against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff
  • Thank you for your attention!