Archive for the 'Free speech' Category

Internet: A Fundamental Human Right?

The internet shutdown in Egypt in January 2011 sparked a lively debate on whether access to the internet is a fundamental human right or not? This discussion has re-emerged with the recent release of the report by Frank LaRue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of speech and expression. The report identifies the internet as the key means by which individuals exercise their right to freedom of expression. The report concludes that the same framework that safeguards the right to freedom of expression must govern the right to internet access.

While welcomed by many, the characterization of internet access as a fundamental right has not been unanimously embraced. Continue reading ‘Internet: A Fundamental Human Right?’


Mexico: Code of Ethics v Freedom of Expression

Ms Carmen Aristegui, a well-known Mexican journalist was fired from a major Mexican radio station MVS Noticias, in February 2011, for “violating the station’s code of ethics” by “broadcasting rumour as news” and subsequently refusing to make an on-air apology.

Ms Aristegui’s dismissal came after she aired a controversial radio broadcast suggesting that the Presidency of the Republic should address the accusations of President Calderon’s alleged drinking problem.  According to Ms Aristegui, her statement  “was an editorial comment based on a news event” which followed an episode that occurred in the Congress, where a left-wing deputy of the Labour Party (Partido del Trabajo (PT) displayed a banner with an image of President Calderon together with the following text: “Would you let a drunk person drive your car? You wouldn’t, right? So, why do you let him drive your country?“ However, no evidence was presented to support such allegations. Continue reading ‘Mexico: Code of Ethics v Freedom of Expression’

Sticking up for God? The Case for freedom of expression encompassing religious criticism

Religious defamation as a legal concept was first proposed in 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council on the submission of Pakistan. It broadened the individualistic nature of human rights protection to cover very large groups. The adopted text of the 2009 Resolution stated that:

“Defamation of religious is a serious affront to human dignity leading to a restriction on the freedom of their adherents and incitement to religious violence,”

This move was widely criticised at the time as serving the interests of Islamic and African Nations, which comprised the majority of the 23 votes in favour (10 against, 13 abstentions). The resolution itself was very unclear on what religious defamation actually means, ranging from phrases such as: “Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism” Which seem to deal with generally offensive statements, to the more familiar territory of incitement to racial and religious violence. Whilst the latter is well known and dealt with under a variety of municipal legal systems through criminal law, the former suggests an extension of forbidden speech into the territory of ‘defamation proper’, that is to say, of private law. Continue reading ‘Sticking up for God? The Case for freedom of expression encompassing religious criticism’

A reawakening of free speech in Egypt?

In the wake of the January 2011 Egyptian revolution, harmonies of free speech and reform echoed through the crowds of Tahrir Square and were heard around the world.

One Egyptian lyricist, Hany Adel, voiced the revolutionary weapons of dreams and words in his song, Sout Al Horeya ‘the sound of freedom,’ which quickly gained popularity across the internet and social media networks. Continue reading ‘A reawakening of free speech in Egypt?’

Azerbaijan and the case of Eynulla Fatullayev

Protesters gathered in front of the Azerbaijani Embassy on 20 April to commemorate the anniversary of the imprisonment of journalist Eynulla Fatullayev in 2007, and to support the Azerbaijani citizens who were harassed and brought under custody during the opposition rally that took place on 9 and 17 April 2011, in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Human Rights Organisations report a rapid deterioration of media freedom in the country and the case of Eynulla Fatullayev ‘symbolises’ Ajerbaijan’s failure to secure freedom of expression as guaranteed in international and European law.  Continue reading ‘Azerbaijan and the case of Eynulla Fatullayev’


The White House Correspondents Association annual dinner is a chance for the President or Vice President and their administration to schmooze the press corps, during an evening of ironic and sometimes sardonic comedy which sets aside the usually serious timbre of politics in place of a more jovial and fun-filled resonance.  However, at the finale of this year’s speech, just as the uproarious subsided, US President Barack Obama ended on a slightly more serious note.  “You know, in the last months, we’ve seen journalists threatened, arrested, beaten, attacked, and in some cases even killed simply for doing their best to bring us the story, to give people a voice, and to hold leaders accountable.  And through it all, we’ve seen daring men and women risk their lives for the simple idea that no one should be silenced, and everyone deserves to know the truth.” Continue reading ‘WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY’

Judge Affirms Freedom Of Expression In Northern Ireland

In 2008 Sandown Free Presbyterian Church placed an advert in a newspaper in Northern Ireland which referred to homosexuality as ‘an abomination’ and invited people to join in a peaceful public prayer witness against acts of sodomy.  After receiving seven complaints that the advertisement was blatantly homophobic, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) suggested that the advert had caused ‘serious offence’ to some readers and ordered that it be removed and not published in the same format again.  The Church challenged the decision of the ASA arguing the ban to be an infringement of their rights to freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and it was last month that Justice Treacy agreed with the applicants, that the outright ban on the advertisement infringed their right to freedom of expression.  Continue reading ‘Judge Affirms Freedom Of Expression In Northern Ireland’

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