Below, please find the latest case additions to the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression legal database.
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June 7-13, 2016
Mujica v. Liceo Experimental Artístico de Aplicación School of Antofagasta
Decision Date: April 23, 2009
After a Chilean student at a public school expressed his political views and criticized his school and the legal regime governing education in Chile, the school’s administration refused to renew his enrollment. The Supreme Court of Chile held that the school administration’s’ decision was arbitrary and contrary to freedom of expression. Consequently, it ordered the school to renew the student’s enrollment and take the necessary measures to reinstate him.
Action challenging the constitutionality of the Democracy Code [Código de la Democracia] of Ecuador
Decision Date: November 7, 2012
The Constitutional Court of Ecuador reviewed the constitutionality of articles related to electoral reform, which established an information blackout 48 hours before an election, prohibited private campaign funding, and banned the media from conducting any direct or indirect political campaign activities.The Court held that the law was constitutional, but with two exceptions. First, The Court excluded private social media from the information blackout, and limited it to traditional media outlets. Secondly, the Court declared unconstitutional the phrase “whether through news coverage, special coverage, or any other form of message” for being overly broad as it could lead to interpretations that undermine the right to freedom of expression.
Bohlen v. Germany
Decision Date: February 19, 2015
Dieter Bohlen, a well-known German musician, sued British American Tobacco in the German courts for using his name in a cigarette advertisement. A lower court ordered BAT to cease further use of Bohlen's name and to pay him 100,000 euro in compensation as a notional license fee. BAT stopped using Bohlen’s name but refused to pay the 100,000 euro compensation on the grounds that he was a public figure. Germany's Federal Court found for BAT, holding that the award unjustifiably suppressed its right to freedom of expression. Bohlen filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the failure to compensate him for the unauthorized use of his name violated his right to private life as protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Court of Human Rights disagreed and upheld the decision of the German courts, finding that they had struck the appropriate balance between the Bohlen's right to privacy and BAT's right to freedom of expression.
Andare v. Attorney General
Decision Date: April 19, 2016
Geoffrey Andare, though a post in a community Facebook group, accused Titus Kuria, a representative of a scholarship trust, of using his position of authority to sleep with young girls seeking scholarships. Kuria brought a criminal complaint against Andare under Section 29 of Kenya’s Information and Communication Act that broadly criminalizes indecent or false information. While the case was pending in criminal court, Andare brought a petition to challenge the constitutionality of the Section 29. The High Court held that Section 29 was unconstitutional because it unjustifiably limited freedom of expression and because it was worded in vague terms.
Action challenging the constitutionality of Article 373 of the Criminal Code of the State of Veracruz penalizing false speech
Decision Date: June 20, 2013
The President of the National Human Rights Commission filed a complaint asserting the unconstitutionality of an article in the Penal Code of the Mexican State of Veracruz which penalized false speech that disturbs public order. The Supreme Court of Mexico upheld the complaint, because the measure did not meet the necessity requirement and was disproportionate under international and Mexican standards on restrictions to freedom of expression. The Court determined that although the article pursued a legitimate purpose, it was ambiguous and could have been “achieved through a measure that [was] less restrictive of freedom of expression.” Furthermore, the Court highlighted that the contested article limited speech that was in the public interest, which international law has classified as “specially protected speech” and which thus must be subject to the heightened scrutiny standard.
Cojocaru v. Romania
Decision Date: February 10, 2015
The European Court had to determine whether the criminal sentence imposed on a journalist for defamation amounted to a breach of his freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. It found that the interference complained of was not “necessary in a democratic society” within the meaning of Article 10 of the Convention, for three main reasons: (i) the applicant reported on matters of public concern and on a politician's public work; (ii) there was no evidence that the applicant intention was to defame; (iii) the journalist offered reasonable grounds for his criticisms - he relied on official reports and presented the other side's viewpoint.
Project Manager, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression
Columbia Global Freedom of Expression