Benjamin Cardozo, an American jurist of the 20th century, used to say that "Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom?. As such, freedom of expression was recognised, as early as at the end of the 18th century, as a fundamental right in democratic societies, both in some European States and in the United States of America. Since then, it has gained a great level of protection in most of the modern societies and is seen as a human right for different reasons. First, the individual has a right to express his opinion as well as the public has a right to be properly informed. Then, the free flow of information in society allows for economic development and diversity of opinions in the public debate. The European Convention on Human Rights (hereafter ECHR) protects it in its Article 101.
[...] To find a balanced and sensible answer to such problems is a difficult task, especially when terrorists try to take advantage of the situation. Århus' ruling follows the position of European Court of Human Rights. Indeed, the Court widely protects freedom of expression, considering that information or ideas that offend, shock or disturb13 have also to be protected for the society to be democratic. In case of conflicts between the right to freedom of expression and protection of other rights comprised by the ECHR, “the freedom of expression of the press in particular carries great weight if it concerns a subject of general interest, as the press fulfils a central function in a democratic society” 14. [...]
[...] Terrorism must not be used as a pretext to restrict freedom of expression, thought a compromise has to be found Idem Art Spiegelman, op. cit., p European Court of Human Rights, Sunday Times (n°1) v. United Kingdom, April The Director of Public Prosecutions, op. cit., paragraph Council of Europe, Committee of Ministers, Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism Summary of the treaty, May On March the Committee of Ministers adopted a Declaration on freedom of expression and information in the media in the context of the fight against terrorism. [...]
[...] Media and terrorism: new challenges for freedom of expression? Benjamin Cardozo, an American jurist of the 20th century, used to say that “Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom”. As such, freedom of expression was recognised, as early as at the end of the 18th century, as a fundamental right in democratic societies, both in some European States and in the United States of America. Since then, it has gained a great level of protection in most of the modern societies and is seen as a human right for different reasons. [...]
[...] In spite of that, without intention of harm, freedom of expression should not be narrowed. Obviously exceptions exist, for instance if the speech incites to violence or hatred. Yet, even if law objectivises such a decisive intention in legal terms, it can be hard to prove it clearly, or even to know what the intention was. In this case specifically, the editor's choice not to invite illustrators but to invite cartoonists, “[a] breed of troublemakers by profession” 12, could easily be seen as an intention not only to provoke the Danish society but also to cause harm. [...]
[...] Besides, it has to be balanced with other human rights and in case of conflict “the hardest thing ( ) is undoubtedly to find a solution taking into account everyone and everybody's rights” 2. On the other hand, terrorism seems to have become one of the main problems the 21st century will have to cope. In that context, it appears difficult to conciliate the fundamental protection of freedom of expression with the factual dangers that can be implied by free speech. International events provide evidence of this conflict. [...]
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