Freedom of Expression
Freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of all democratic systems. Without it, ideas about how to protect the common good in our societies would be impoverished. A marketplace of ideas is essential for democracy to thrive. It is for this reason that the European Court of Human Rights attaches such importance to political discourse, as well as to speech and other forms of expression that may shock and offend. Yet, such freedom may clash with other rights, such as the right to privacy or the right to a good reputation. It may even conflict with the need to protect public order or morals. Societies require pluralism if they are to grow, yet democracy also seeks to limit extreme forms of speech that preach hate and advocate violence. Are such restrictions on free speech legitimate? By what criteria are we to judge their necessity? We rely on journalists to report accurately the controversies of the day and protect their right not to reveal sources. They also enjoy a broad right of fair comment. We expect them to be responsible in their factual reporting, to check their sources, and to have regard of the need to observe some degree of restraint when reporting or commenting on matters that affect the rights of others. However, is it legitimate to interfere with reporting that is in the public interest? How can the law promote responsible journalism? This collection of essays on freedom of expression contains contributions by distinguished judges and lawyers from various backgrounds that explore these themes with a critical eye. The festschrift honors Sir Nicolas Bratza, President of the European Court of Human Rights, for his outstanding contributions, as a jurist and leading judicial figure, to the protection of human rights in Europe.
Publication Date: 10/1/2012