The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and United Kingdom Law

By David Harris; Sarah Joseph | Go to book overview

12
Freedom of Expression
DAVID FELDMANThis chapter examines the extent to which the law of the United Kingdom complies with the requirements of Articles 19 and 20 of the ICCPR. Article 19 is a general provision which brings together the autonomy-related approach to individual rights under the Covenant with the participationrelated approach: freedom of expression and its associated rights to obtain and to impart information allow people both to hold and assert their own views and attitudes, as an exercise of the autonomy of the individual, and to participate in a worthwhile way in the processes of politics and government.1 Article 20, by contrast, is a response to a particular problem, that of nationalism and incitement to hatred of ethnic and religious groups, which had been current for many centuries but which was particularly obvious in the light of the Nazi horrors perpetrated by Hitler and his followers during Germany's Third Reich.2 This chapter first examines the extent to which the United Kingdom meets the requirements of Article 19. This involves considering the extent to which restrictions of freedom of expression are justifiable by reference to the objectives set out in Article 19(3). Finally, the chapter evaluates the United Kingdom's compliance with Article 20, and the relationship between the state's obligations under Article 20 and people's rights under Article 19.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ARNCLE 19
Article 19, headed 'Freedom of Opinion, Expression and Information', provides:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries
____________________
1
Nowak, M., UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: CCPR Commentary ( Kehl, 1993), 336.
2
Ibid. 359.

-391-

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