Case Law, Strasbourg: Brzeziński v. Poland: Fine over ‘false’ information during election campaign violated Article 10 – Ronan Ó Fathaigh

16 08 2019

On 25 July 2019, the European Court of Human Rights delivered an important judgment in Brzeziński v. Poland, (available only in French) concerning a provision in Poland’s election law which allows a court, within 24 hours, to consider whether ‘untrue information’ has been published, and to issue an order prohibiting its further distribution. Read the rest of this entry »





Case Law, Strasbourg: Mătăsaru v Moldova, Activist’s conviction for hooliganism over ‘obscene’ protest violated Article 10 – Ronan Ó Fathaigh and Dirk Voorhoof

26 01 2019

On 15 January 2019, in Mătăsaru v. the Republic of Moldova ([2019] ECHR 35) the Court of Human Rights, Second Section unanimously found that an anti-corruption activist’s conviction for staging an “obscene” demonstration outside a prosecutor’s office, targeting a number of public officials, violated the activist’s freedom of expression. Read the rest of this entry »





Case Law, Strasbourg: Sinkova v Ukraine, Conviction for performance art war memorial protest did not violate Article 10 – Ronan Ó Fathaigh and Dirk Voorhoof

22 03 2018

The European Court’s Fourth Section has held, by four votes to three, that a protestor’s conviction, including a suspended three-year prison sentence, for frying eggs over the flame of a war memorial, did not violate the protestor’s freedom of expression. The judgment in Sinkova v. Ukraine prompted a notable dissent, which highlighted “inconsistency” with the Court’s prior case law, and a disregard for the principle that criminal penalties are likely to have a “chilling effect on satirical forms of expression relating to topical issues.” Read the rest of this entry »





Case Law, Strasbourg: Independent Newspapers v. Ireland: €1.25 million defamation award against newspaper violated Article 10 – Ronan Ó Fathaigh

25 06 2017

The European Court’s Fifth Section has unanimously held that a damages award made against an Irish newspaper for defamation violated the right to freedom of expression, under Article 10 of the European Convention. While the judgment in Independent Newspapers v. Ireland concerned Irish defamation law prior to reforms brought about in 2009, it is still significant for signalling to Irish courts that unpredictably high damages have a “chilling effect,” and require the “most careful scrutiny” and “very strong justification.” Read the rest of this entry »





Case Law, Strasbourg: Ziembiński v. Poland (No. 2), Polish mayor’s private prosecution of local journalist for insult violated Article 10 – Ronan Ó Fathaigh

30 08 2016

img_3698The European Court’s Fourth Section has held in Ziembiński v. Poland (No. 2) that a newspaper editor’s conviction for describing local government officials as “dim-witted” and a “numbskull” violated the editor’s Article 10 right to freedom of expression. Read the rest of this entry »





Case Law, Strasbourg: Kurski v. Poland: Ordering politician to publish apology for defaming Polish newspaper violated Article 10 – Ronan Ó Fathaigh

16 07 2016

gw 20130124-covThe European Court’s Fourth Section has held that a successful civil action by a newspaper against a Polish politician for alleging the newspaper had an “agreement” with an oil corporation to finance the newspaper’s “mass propaganda” against his political party, violated the politician’s freedom of expression. The opinion in Kurski v. Poland dealt with the unusual, but not rare, situation when a newspaper launches defamation proceedings against a politician for damaging its reputation, and the broader issue of ordering publication of apologies. Read the rest of this entry »





Case Law, Strasbourg: Brosa v Germany, Injunction banning political leaflet violated Article 10 – Ronan Ó Fathaigh and Dirk Voorhoof

23 05 2014

3219641In a victory for free expression, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a court-imposed injunction banning a political activist from distributing leaflets targeting a political candidate violated Article 10 of the European Convention. In Brosa Germany ([2014] ECHR 432) criticised the German courts for refusing to hold that the leaflet was a fair comment on a matter of public interest, as the threshold for proving fair comment was “disproportionately high.” Read the rest of this entry »





The press and NGOs’ right of access to official documents: strict scrutiny in the Court of Human Rights – Dirk Voorhoof and Rónán Ó Fathaigh

6 12 2013

Tyrol-Austria-austria-31748795-500-375In its judgment of 28 November 2013 in the case of Österreichische Vereinigung zur Erhaltung, Stärkung und Schaffung eines wirtschaftlich gesunden land- und forstwirt­schaftlichen Grundbesitzes v. Austria (OVESSG) the European Court of Human Rights has further clarified and expanded the scope of application of Article 10 of the Convention with regard to the right of access to public documents.  The judgment is especially supportive for requests by journalists and NGOs to have access to official documents. Read the rest of this entry »





Case Law, Strasbourg: Belpietro v. Italy, Newspaper Editor Criminally Liable for Senator’s Op-Ed, But Prison Sentence Violated Article 10 – Ronan Ó Fathaigh and Dirk Voorhoof

11 10 2013

maurizio-belpietroNine years ago, in its landmark Cumpănă and Mazăre v. Romania judgment, a unanimous Grand Chamber laid down a rare absolute rule that prison sentences for defamation are never justified under Article 10 where the defamatory statements concern a matter of public interest. This rule against prison sentences included pardoned, suspended, or conditional sentences, effectively removing from European legislatures and courts the ability to impose such sentences. Read the rest of this entry »