"The Committee notes that it is for the State party to show that the restriction on the author’s freedom of speech was necessary in the present case. Even if a State party may introduce a permit system aiming to strike a balance between an individual’s freedom of speech and the general interest in maintaining public order in a certain area, such a system must not operate in a way that is incompatible with article 19 of the Covenant. In the present case, the author made a public address on issues of public interest. On the evidence of the material before the Committee, there was no suggestion that the author’s address was either threatening, unduly disruptive or otherwise likely to jeopardise public order in the mall; indeed, police officers present, rather than seeking to curtail the author’s address, allowed him to proceed while videotaping him. The author delivered his speech without a permit. For this, he was fined and, when he failed to pay the fine, he was held in custody for five days. The Committee considers that the State party’s reaction in response to the author’s conduct was disproportionate and amounted to a restriction of the author’s freedom of speech which was not compatible with article 19, paragraph 3, of the Covenant. It follows that there was a violation of article 19, paragraph 2, of the Covenant. "
DocumentUN (CCPR): Communication No. 1157/2003, Patrick Coleman v. Australia, p. 7.3
- Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, whether through public speeches or other means.
- Freedom of expression may only be restricted under certain circumstances as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society.
- Freedom of expression may only be restricted in limited cases, including in the interest of public safety.