In Search for an Antidote

In early January 2020, the Chinese doctor Li Wenliang became the first victim of what would soon become a global censorship pandemic. After warning colleagues about a mysterious SARS-like disease in an online chat room, Dr. Li and seven other doctors were arrested for spreading “false rumors.” Li had to sign an agreement warning of consequences if he continued his “illegal activities.” By 31 December 2019, the government forced social media platforms like YY and WeChat to censor content related to the coronavirus, Dr. Li and the government’s handling of the outbreak. Next, the regime cracked down on journalists, commentators and foreign correspondents covering the crisis. On 7 February 2020, Dr. Li died of the coronavirus. There can be little doubt that COVID-related misinformation can cause harm and panic. But censorship is a bad medicine that may well worsen rather than cure the infection of distrust and conspiracy theories.

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Homosexuality as a Form of Expression

Numerous courts have dealt with the question whether the sexual identity of an individual enjoys constitutional protection as freedom of expression. Recently, Singapore’s Supreme Court has rejected this understanding of the freedom of expression which highlights the different approaches of courts across countries like Singapore, India, Botswana, and Kenya.

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Don’t Call a Spade a Shovel

Such concerns are, not only but to a large extent, fueled by the apparent indeterminacy of the terms employed to regulate fake news. This is true for Hungary, but also for France, Russia and several Asian countries, which have already passed fake news legislation. Uncertainties concerning the definition may have discouraged other states from passing similar laws, out of legitimate worries over freedom of expression. In fact, however, many scholars and institutions actually agree on the characteristics of the phenomenon.

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Why We Have Sued the Hungarian Parliament

The President of the Hungarian Parliament has restricted journalistic reporting on the premises of the Parliament to a point where it has become virtually impossible for journalists to do their job. Bea Bakó, chief editor of the news site azonnali.hu, on the limitations journalists have to face in Hungary, and why they are taking the President of Parliament to court.

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Supporting Wojciech Sadurski in a Warsaw Courtroom

Last week one of us, together with Gráinne de Burca, again put the spotlight on PiS and allies suing Wojciech Sadurski over some highly critical tweets. It led to a tremendous show of support. This support makes it a statement of the obvious that Sadurski’s trial is a blemish on the EU and every Member States that both so frequently pledge to take the rule of law seriously. And yet. His (first) trial took place yesterday, Wednesday 27 November, at the Warsaw district court. Here is an account of what we both witnessed, live and through live footage respectively.

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Stand with Wojciech Sadurski: his freedom of expression is (y)ours

Just days before the trial against Wojciech Sadurski in Warsaw, we write to seek renewal of your support, and for your help in keeping the PiS strategy of coordinated legal harassment against him, and the threat of a criminal conviction and an award of damages against him as well as hefty legal fees, in the public eye. The party believes that it can ride out the storm, and that by ignoring the protests they will eventually disappear. But they will not.

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France Criminalises Research on Judges

In March, France made a controversial move and became the first country in the world to explicitly ban research on individual judicial behaviour. It is now a criminal offence to ‘evaluate, analyse, compare or predict’ the behaviour of individual judges. The result is a flagrant violation of the freedom of expression, represents an affront to basic values of academic freedom, and disregards basic principles of the rule of law.

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Producing Legal History

Iustitia dilata est iustitia negata is a famous legal maxim meaning that “justice delayed is justice denied”. It goes without saying that it represents a universal truth. This truth is particularly relevant to the European Court of Human Rights which – on average – takes several years to deliver a judgment.

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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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