Philosphy of the center

The activities of the Center LIBREXPRESSION take place in full respect of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as specified in the constent jurisprudence since the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights « Handyside versus United Kingdom » of 1976, cornerstone of freedom of expression jurisprudence.

European Convention on Human Rights
ARTICLE 10 Freedom of expression

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
  2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in con dence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Handyside V. United Kingdom (case number 5493/72), decision of the ECHD december 7, 1976 –

§-49. Nevertheless, Article 10 para. 2 (art. 10-2) does not give the Contracting States an unlimited power of appreciation. The Court, which, with the Commission, is responsible for ensuring the observance of those States’ engagements (Article 19) (art. 19), is empowered to give the final ruling on whether a “restriction” or “penalty” is reconcilable with freedom of expression as protected by Article 10 (art. 10). The domestic margin of appreciation thus goes hand in hand with a European supervision. Such supervision concerns both the aim of the measure challenged and its “necessity”; it covers not only the basic legislation but also the decision applying it, even one given by an independent court. In this respect, the Court refers to Article 50 (art. 50) of the Convention (“decision or … measure taken by a legal authority or any other authority”) as well as to its own case-law (Engel and others judgment of 8 June 1976, Series A no. 22, pp. 41-42, para. 100).

The Court’s supervisory functions oblige it to pay the utmost attention to the principles characterising a “democratic society”. Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of such a society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man. Subject to paragraph 2 of Article 10 (art. 10-2), it is applicable not only to “information” or “ideas” that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no “democratic society”. This means, amongst other things, that every “formality”, “condition”, “restriction” or “penalty” imposed in this sphere must be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued.

From another standpoint, whoever exercises his freedom of expression undertakes “duties and responsibilities” the scope of which depends on his situation and the technical means he uses. The Court cannot overlook such a person’s “duties” and “responsibilities” when it enquires, as in this case, whether “restrictions” or “penalties” were conducive to the “protection of morals” which made them “necessary” in a “democratic society”.