We are thrilled to announce our cooperation with the European Implementation Network (EIN) in their new project focused on safeguarding freedom of expression in the Council of Europe member States. As a participant to this project, we are dedicated to promoting this fundamental right and the effective implementation of the relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as to advocating for reforms aimed at effectively protecting free speech in Hungary.
Violations of the right to free speech have become central to the crisis of democratic backsliding in European States. We witness the healthy functioning of democracies being undermined, and sometimes curtailed, by a combination of factors, depending on the jurisdiction, such as draconian defamation laws silencing journalists through court proceedings, the undermining of free debate through excessive ownership of media outlets by the State or its affiliates, and even widespread violence against reporters.
To address these pressing issues, the ECtHR has already issued about 300 leading judgments that identify violations of the right to free speech. However, it is alarming to note that at the time of writing, 50% of the leading free speech judgments handed down by the ECtHR in the last 10 years are still pending implementation. Currently, there are more than 100 leading ECtHR judgements on free speech awaiting implementation.
Together with EIN and other partners, we are committed to championing freedom of expression and upholding democratic values throughout Europe. By actively engaging with the implementation process of ECtHR judgments, we aim at creating lasting reforms that protect and promote free speech across the continent. Stay tuned for updates as we work towards a more inclusive and democratic society.
In October 2023, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee submitted a Rule 9(2) communication to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in the framework of the project in the Baka v. Hungary case, highlighting that the implementation of the judgment would require laws that unambiguously guarantee freedom of expression of Hungarian judges under the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. Our communication is available here.
Staff members of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee attended EIN’s conference “Protecting Free Speech through ECtHR Judgments” that was organized on 20-21 November 2023 in Leipzig in the framework of the project. Our colleagues spoke about European Court of Human Rights judgments against Hungary that concerned the access to information of NGOs and journalists in the panel “Protection of journalistic sources and access to public information” and shared the Hungarian experiences in the “Freedom of expression of magistrates” panel, focusing on the implementation of the Baka v. Hungary judgment.