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Freedom of Expression is Essential in a Democratic Society

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Freedom of expression involves a number of aspects which are regulated under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is thought to be essential in a free and democratic society. Article 10 describes freedom of expression as having the freedom to hold an opinion or express a view without intervention from public authority . However, this right is not an absolute right as there are a number of formalities, restrictions and conditions placed on the right to freedom of expression. A number of legal restrictions have been put into place to protect national security, public safety, for the prevention of disorder, which may lead to crime, protection of public health and morals , protecting the freedom and rights of others, preventing disclosure of information received in confidence and maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary . Article 10 goes on to further explain that these restrictions must be in accordance with the law and be both necessary and proportionate . This essay will focus on some of the limitations English Law has placed on freedom of expression and whether these limitations are satisfactory. Freedom of expression is largely limited in English law in relation to racial and religious hatred which in turn could lead to defamation, which contains further limits on freedom of expression. There are a number of Libel laws which provide protection to an individual’s reputation by limiting what can be written or said about them to a reasonable extent. Similarly in terms of religion it is argued that limitations should rightly be placed when criticising someones religious beliefs and values. Bhikhu Parekh, a multi-culturist theorist uses examples of the Holocaust Denial and Salman Rushdie’s nov... ... middle of paper ... ...he right to a fair trial. On the other hand the public have a right to information, which is why press releases are issued by the court in order to balance the right to information and the right to a fair trial. Reputation of judges are also maintained by limiting freedom of expression. The court assesses each case on a case by case basis and aims to identify if the journalist (for example) acted out of good faith. This limitation likewise protects the individuals on trial. In Worm v Austria (1997) a journalist was fined for publishing an article which could have impacted the outcome of criminal proceedings involving a former minister. This limitation can be thought to be extremely essential in order to exercise the right to a fair trial. Although many can argue his points are dated, I believe it is appropriate to conclude with Mills view on freedom of expression.
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