Offence Intended – Virgin Mary With a Rainbow Halo as Freedom of Expression

The news that a 51-year-old activist, Ms Elżbieta Podleśna, was detained and interrogated by Polish authorities shocked the public in Poland. She is charged under Poland’s "blasphemy law" for allegedly putting up posters of the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo. This latest example of Polish authorities prosecuting cases of religious insults illustrates the incompatibility of Poland’s “blasphemy law” with European human rights guarantees, in particular the freedom of expression.

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A Ministry of Truth in Singapore? Reflections on the Anti-Fake News Bill

On 1 April, the government of Singapore introduced the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill. Often referred to as the Singaporean anti-fake news law, it is expected to be enacted with a few changes in the coming weeks or months. A closer look at the bill’s context, its most powerful elements and its possible regional impact as a model for legislation in other countries reveals that it is most likely to have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.

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Fundamental Rights as Bycatch – Russia’s Anti-Fake News Legislation

On 18 March, following approval by President Putin, Russia’s controversial anti-fake news legislation entered into force. While Russia is not the only state to address the issues of hate speech or fake news with legislative means, its new legislation raises serious constitutional concerns, particularly due to its imprecise and overly broad scope of application.

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Countering the Judicial Silencing of Critics: Novel Ways to Enforce European Values

The Polish government is stepping up its repression. The freedom of political speech is a main target. A national judge has not just the right but an outright duty to refer a case to the CJEU whenever the common value basis is in danger. Thus, a Polish judge faced with a case concerning the silencing of critics, must refer the matter to the CJEU and request an interpretation of Article 2 TEU in light of the rights at stake.

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Schengen Entry Bans for Political Reasons? The Case of Lyudmyla Kozlovska

On 13 August 2018, Lyudmyla Kozlovska, an Ukrainian national and the President of the Open Dialog Foundation (ODF) in Poland, was detained at Brussels airport on the basis of a Polish entry ban reported into the Schengen Information System (SIS II). One day later, the Belgian border authorities deported her to Kiev, Ukraine. This case raises questions on the discretionary power of states to use the SIS II for entry bans on ‘unwanted migrants’ and the obligation of executing states, in this case Belgium, to check the legitimacy or proportionality of these other states decisions. Furthermore, this case illustrates the necessity of effective remedies against decisions reported in large-scale databases such as SIS.

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“Academics for Peace“ and their Freedom of Expression

The ‘Academics for Peace Petition’, published in January 2016, was signed by around two thousand academics from both Turkey and from abroad. The petition raised concerns, using strong language, about the conduct of Turkish security forces in their counter-terrorism operations carried out in response to violent actions by the PKK terrorist group and their supporters  in south-east Turkey in the summer of 2015. One signatory,  Füsun Üstel, professor of political science, was found guilty of committing the crime of terrorist propaganda under Article 7(2) of the Turkish Counter Terrorism Law and now faces fifteen months of imprisonment. The constitutional protection of Üstel’s freedom of expression has not been respected by the court in its judicial reasoning. 

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A Constitutional Court Silencing its Critics

After twenty years of operation, the Thai Constitutional Court has finally got its first statute that lays out details of procedural rules. The Organic Act on the Procedure of the Constitutional Court B.E. 2561 (2018) is long overdue. A decade of political chaos had prevented the Parliament from passing the law until the military took power in 2014. The junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly expected it to facilitate the Court through the foreseeably turbulent future. Ironically, turbulences might come from the law itself.

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Wo für Straßburg der Spaß aufhört

Spiegeleier auf der Flamme des Grabmals des Unbekannten Soldaten braten ist eine krasse Form des Protests – aber so krass, dass sie mit drei Jahren Gefängnis auf Bewährung bestraft werden darf, ohne die Meinungsfreiheit zu verletzen? In seinem Urteil Sinkova v. Ukraine zeigt sich der EGMR außerstande, satirischem Protest gegen staatliche Erinnerungspolitik den nötigen Spielraum zu verschaffen.

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Is the Crime in the Eye of the Beholder?

The French Constitutional Council has, for the second time, struck down a law that prohibits the usual consultation of terrorist websites. There is a higher abstract risk associated to the act of publishing a message than in the isolated act of reading it. Focusing on the prevention of the harm likely to be inflicted by the reader of the websites might not be the only way to deal with this statute, though.

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Criticizing the new President of the Polish Constitutional Court: A Crime against the State?

L’état c’est moi. Thus said France’s Louis XIV, and thus seems to think of herself Julia Przyłębska – since the 2016 “coup” against the Constitutional Court in Poland, she is the President of that Court, de facto appointed to the post by the man who runs Poland these days, Jarosław Kaczyński. Last October a Polish oppositional daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, described how she allegedly colluded with the Polish State security in the pursuit of her position at the Constitutional Court. Przyłębska tried to defend herself by using criminal-law instruments otherwise designed to  protect the State. "By attacking me, you attack the State,” she seems to suggest.

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