Below, please find the latest case additions to the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression legal database.
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September 8-13, 2016
Karácsony and Others v. Hungary
Decision Date: May 17, 2016
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights held that while parliamentarians can be required to adhere to parliamentary rules of conduct, imposing a fine for breach of these rules without hearing them violates their rights. The case came about after seven members of the Hungarian parliament showed their opposition to new laws on tobacco and the distribution of agricultural and forestry lands by chanting, waving banners and placards and placing a wheelbarrow full of soil in the parliamentary chamber. They were each fined without being given a chance to defend of their conduct.
Norwegian Prosecution Authority v. X
Decision Date: May 4, 2016
The poster of a racist message on the Facebook profile of a well-known singer, writer and journalist was convicted under Norway's hate speech laws. He alleged she had "slept her way into permanent leave to stay" and called on her to "move back to Africa". He was sentenced to imprisonment because he was also found to be in possession of illegal drugs.
Castells v. Spain
Decision Date: April 23, 1992
The European Court of Human Rights held that criminal defamation proceedings and a subsequent prison sentence for a member of the Spanish Senate who had criticised government policy violated the right to freedom of expression. The senator had criticized the government for failing to ensure the safety of the Basque citizens and accused government officials of involvement in the murder of political dissidents, and had been sentenced to a year and a day's imprisonment. The European Court ruled that an interference with the right to freedom of expression of an elected representative, particularly an opposition member, calls for the closest scrutiny, and held that the government’s refusal to allow a defense of truth meant that the criminal proceedings were an unjustified interference with the exercise of his free speech.
United States v. O’Brien
Decision Date: May 27, 1968
The United States Supreme Court upheld a conviction for burning a military draft registration certificate on the steps of a courthouse, finding that the prohibition against destroying or mutilating draft registration certificates was narrowly tailored to further a substantial governmental interest, and thus was a permissible restriction on expressive conduct under the United States Constitution.
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Project Manager, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression
Columbia Global Freedom of Expression
Program Officer, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression