Dr. Dr.Alfred de Zayas underlines the need to exercise the right to freedom of expression with responsibility, and to respect the honour and reputation of others, in particular religious beliefs and sensibilities as stipulated in articles 18, 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which specifically proscribe incitement to racial or religious hatred.
GENEVA, January 13, 2015 – The United Nations (UN) Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Dr. Alfred de Zayas, stated to the Albanian news agency Presheva Jone that the right to freedom of expression, enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), is crucial to a democratic society, noting, however, that it is not an absolute right and must be exercised in the context of other Covenant rights, which may entail certain restrictions in order to prevent discrimination and incitement to national, racial or religious violence.
The UN Independent Expert co-published an article with Spanish diplomat Dr. Aurea Roldan Martin in the prestigious Netherlands International Law Review focusing on the role of the UN Human Rights Committee to address issues related to blasphemy laws, satires and memory laws.
Dr. Alfred de Zayas emphasizes that “whereas freedom of opinion cannot be restricted, freedom of expression always carries special responsibilities with it, and is subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“As in many other circumstances, there may be competing rights and colliding interests that must be taken into account and balanced out.”
In the context of Charlie Hebdo’s satirical articles, “a sensible compromise between freedom of expression and the responsibility to respect the honour and reputation of others” should have been sought according to Dr. de Zayas
In the wake of the publication of the YouTube video Innocence of Muslims, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr. Navy Pillay considered the film to be “deliberately provocative” and called upon people to protest peacefully.
The UN Independent Expert believes that human dignity requires respect for different religious views and traditions stating “for millions of human beings, religion is part of their identities and central to their value systems and sense of personal well-being. Religion is protected by the ICCPR as a non-derogable right. Only if we respect each other can we achieve a peaceful and just international order.“ /Blerim Mustafa
Photo credit: UN
* This article was written by the author in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not represent the view of Leidar
Link to original article (Presheva Jone, also available below): http://www.preshevajone.com/un-independent-expert-the-right-to-freedom-of-expression-is-subject-to-restrictions/