Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly round-up, 6 September 2010

Russia: “Strasbourg court to consider Russian opposition claim against Moscow govt”, 31 August 2010

The European Court of Human Rights is considering a claim by three Russian activists that authorities in Moscow violated their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as guaranteed by Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 31 of the Russian Constitution.

The claim was filed by Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki human rights group on the basis that Moscow authorities have regularly denied requests by opposition groups to stage rallies.

Turkey: “Turkey set to end defenses in freedom of speech cases”, August 31 2010

Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu¸ confirmed that the Turkish authorities were considering non-judicial responses to cases against Turkey in the European Court of Human Rights. The Foreign Minister’s comments followed a newspaper article which claimed that the Turkish Interior, Justice and Foreign Ministers had decided not to defend cases on freedom of speech given the criticism of Turkey’s defence in the Dink trial.

The trial of Turkey vs. Dink, concerning the murdered journalist Hrant Dink, sparked controversy after the defence team cited a case against a leader of a neo-Nazi organisation. The Turkish government subsequently offered to settle the case, but Dink’s family did not accept.

Activists in Turkey have welcomed the decision but believe that more steps need to be taken to ensure that Turkey complies with international standards. They also point out that many complainants to the European Court are not looking for compensation but to prove that Turkey is guilty of violating their rights.

Rwanda: “Amnesty criticises Rwandan genocide law, wants review”, 31 August 2010

Amnesty International has criticised Rwanda’s laws on “genocide ideology”, claiming that they are being used as a guise to suppress freedom of expression and political opposition. In its report, Safer to Stay Silent, Amnesty warned that the ambiguous and vague wording could be used to criminalise dissent by politicians and journalists. The laws were used in the run-up to the elections to charge two opposition candidates and a newspaper editor. The BBC was also accused of disseminating “genocide ideology”.

Rwandan legal authorities dispute Amnesty’s report.

United Kingdom: “Top Gear’s The Stig is unmasked”, 2 September 2010

The UK High Court refused to grant an injunction blocking publication of a book which reveals that “The Stig” in the TV programme, Top Gear, is racing driver Ben Collins.

The BBC claims the book would breach confidentiality obligations. The publisher HarperCollins stated that the High Court decision was a victory for freedom of expression.


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