Columbia Global Freedom of Expression seeks to contribute to the development of an integrated and progressive jurisprudence and understanding on freedom of expression and information around the world. It maintains an extensive database of international case law. This is its newsletter dealing with recent developments in the field.
Community Highlights and Recent News
|● Global Freedom of Expression experts Dirk Voorhoof and Ronan Ó Fathaigh have published an analysis of the recent ECtHR ruling Szurovecz v. Hungary, and conclude that the unanimous ruling “should serve a powerful precedent for journalists throughout Europe seeking access to asylum-seeker detention centres,” as well as potentially shield them from other forms of intimidation.● Freedom House has released its annual country-by-country assessment of internet freedom, Freedom on the Net 2019: The Crisis of Social Media, which finds that global internet freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year, marking a trend towards digital authoritarianism.
● A work-in-progress screening of The Seeds of an Uncertain Land, a film by Jake Price. The film documents the struggles and success of Puerto Rican farmers who, after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, have been able to employ regenerative farming techniques to bring back traditional foods to sustain communities and address the pressing climate crisis. November 13, 2019 at the NoHo Sound in the East Village, New York City.
Decisions this Week
|European Court of Human Rights
Szurovecz v. Hungary
Decision Date: October 8, 2019
The European Court of Human Rights found that a refusal to grant a Hungarian journalist access to an asylum seeker “Reception Centre” violated his right to impart information and hence his right to freedom of expression. The Reception Centre housed many asylum seekers entering Hungary and there had been allegations that the living conditions were inhumane. The journalist sought permission to enter the Centre in order to interview asylum seekers, take photographs and report on the conditions. Hungarian authorities rejected his request, citing concerns for the privacy and security of the asylum seekers. The European Court of Human Rights emphasized that newsgathering, including first-hand observation, is an essential part of press freedom. It found that the authorities had failed to properly consider the journalistic purpose and public interest in reporting on Government management of the refugee crisis. In light of those circumstances, there was little scope for restrictions on freedom of expression and the Court found a violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.United States
Campbell v. Reisch
Decision Date: August 16, 2019
A District Court in Missouri ruled that a State Representative violated one of her constituent’s First Amendment rights when she blocked him from her Twitter account. Reisch, who sits in the Missouri House of Representatives, blocked Campbell for retweeting criticism of Reisch’s position on a matter of public interest. Relying on Knight First Amendment Inst. at Columbia Univ. v. Trump, the Court found that the interactive space of Reisch’s Twitter account constituted a public forum, as she controlled it in her official government capacity, and that the blocking was a content-based restriction intended to suppress a political viewpoint.
|The Frontier of Expression: Russia and Central Asia
|Post Scriptum● In case you need a laugh at the end of the week, the US Representative of California “Devin Nunes Demands Satirical Internet Cow Stop Making Fun Of Him… Or Else.” Rep. Nunes has launched SLAPP lawsuits against a satirical twitter account,Devin Nunes’ Cow, that he does not find funny. Thanks to the so-called “Streisand effect,” the Cow’s twitter followers have ballooned from 1,200 followers before the lawsuits, to over 630k.|
This newsletter is reproduced with the permission of Global Freedom of Expression. For an archive of previous newsletters, see here.