Aspects of Freedom of Expression which is enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights

By Maria Zalti, Jurist
The freedom of expression set out in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is humans personality constituent element, because constitutes the most important means of expression and communication among people. Not only it responds to people social need but is an indispensable condition of the Republic. In the absence of this freedom, the circulation of ideas and information is non-existent. The inevitable result of which is the inability to form a genuine public opinion, which may be anything that it seeks the ideological, intellectual, pecuniary influence of the recipient.
The freedom of expression is the unrestricted ability of any citizen to write, speak, print freely. Expression includes ideas, messages, news, and generally any person's point of view, in which he articulates his feelings and ideas. The protection provided concerns three forms of expression, commercial, artistic and political. The freedom of opinion contained in the right guarantees freedom of giving and receiving information, formation and possession of expression, reception or dissemination or even silence of an opinion.
The nature and scope of freedom of expression have been determined by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Handyside[1] decision. In that judgment, was confirmed that freedom of expression applies to information and ideas that are accepted, but also to those that offend, affect or disturb the state or even any part of the population.
Freedom of opinion and information is violated by the exploitation of the state's dominant position when it combines media monopoly with the silencing of certain views or events. Please note that the article does not provide a requirement for the state to ensure access to information that is not accessible[2].
The media have the obligation to keep the public informed and the public has right to receive information. The importance of freedom of the press and its role in a democratic society has been acknowledged by the Court which addressed this issue in numerous decisions. In Sunday Times[3] case, was considered that the adoption of a restrictive decree on a journal article informing the public about a medicinal product and its use was not necessary for a democratic society. Further in Goodwin[4] decision, was accepted that the requirement for a reporter to disclose the sources of his information constituted an infringement of the right to freedom of expression. Freedom of the press is accompanied by responsibilities and necessary restrictions, according to the law, for the collection and transmission of information. In Jayoski[5], the Court indicated that the term "necessary" means a pressing societal need, on a more stringent basis than the reasonable and desirable.
In respect to commercial, criticism business practices are acceptable under limits. The commercial success and viability of companies in the interests of shareholders and employees but also for the broader economic good[6], defines a competing interest that must be protected.
Relate the right to critique politics, in Castells[7] case, was stressed that is required for democratic politics. On top of that was told that the tolerable limits of such criticism are wide-ranging for a political than for any other individual. However, in Pakdemirli[8] case, was held that the words that resemble insults rather than political criticism, cannot be interpreted as an opinion emerging through a political debate. In general, the acts and omissions of the respective government must be subjected to the rigorous investigation also by public opinion. Political expression in the European Court of Human Rights is a key feature of the Republic, as it is a means of forming a political opinion and consequently becomes a political right. In Wingrove[9], the Court noted that there is little room for restrictions on political speech or debate on issues of public interest.
Naturally, protection is not limited to political issues but extends to any matter of public concern. Acting in line with the Court in the Handyside judgment which is cited above, this freedom recommends one of the basic conditions for the progress of democratic societies and the development of each individual. In addition, the European Court of Human Rights highlighted the states consider the necessity of limiting the right, based on the conditions prevailing in their territory, but without allowing an arbitrary restriction that is not in accordance with the rules of the European Union. The abusive exercise of the right must be addressed ex-post rather than preventive because such a case violates the democratic authority based on the composition of a pluralistic society.
What happens in case this freedom collides with the right to private life, which is guaranteed in Article 8 of the Convention? Which one shall prevail? First of all, let’s see the content of private life.  As it was explained by the Court in Peck v. UK[10], private life’s content: “Private Life is a broad term not susceptible to exhaustive definition.  The Court has already held that elements such as gender identification, name, sexual orientation, and erotic life are essential elements of the personal sphere protected under Article 8. The article also protects a right to identities and personal development and the right to establish and develop relationships with other human beings and the outside world and it may include activities of a professional or business nature. There is, therefore, a zone of interaction of a person with others, even in public context which may fall within the scope of private life.” It is clear, that the right extends to aspects relating to personal identity such as the name of a person or his photograph and includes the physical and psychological integrity. In Von Hannover[11] case, photographs of Princess Carolina of Monaco depicting herself in her everyday life in public places were regarded as protected by Article 8 of ECHR. In any case, there can be no interference with the core of the right to private life without the consent of the person, which must be free, explicitly and with full knowledge. Indubitably private life and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights, in principle equal. A conflict between these two rights can be dealt with only by examination of their substance, in order to ascertain whether there are circumstances justifying the movement of news about a person's private life.
Maria Zalti, 4 Year LLB student Frederick University
Διαβάστε ακόμα: Expert Witness

[1] Handyside v. the United Kingdom -  judgment of 7 December 1976
[2] Leander v Sweden- judgment of 26 March 1987
[3] Sunday Times (No. 1) v. the United Kingdom - judgment of 26 April 1979
[4] Goodwin v. the United Kingdom -  judgment of 27 March 1996
[5] Jayowski v. Poland - judgment of 21 January 1999
[6] Steel and Morris v. the United Kingdom - judgment of 15 February 2005
[7] Castells v. Spain – Judgement of 23 April 1992
[8] Pakdemirli v. Turkey - judgment of 22 February 2005
[9] Wingrove v. United Kingdom- judgment of 25 November 1996
[10] Peck v. UK - judgment of May 2003
[11] Von Hannover v. Germany (2005) 40 ΕΗΗR 1

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