Freedom of expression should not be limited by the imposition of prior censorship.
- The exercise of the right provided for in the foregoing paragraph [freedom of expression] shall not be subject to prior censorship but shall be subject to subsequent imposition of liability, which shall be expressly established by law to the extent necessary to ensure: (b) the protection of national security, public order, or public health or morals.
- In order to ensure the full enjoyment of rights protected by article 25, the free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens, candidates and elected representatives is essential. This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censorship or restraint and to inform public opinion.
- Declare that in the field of information and mass media they seek to achieve the following objectives: absence of censorship or any arbitrary controls or constraints on participants in the information process, on media content or on the transmission and dissemination of information.
- Prior censorship, direct of indirect interference in or pressure exerted upon any expression, opinion or information transmitted through any mean of oral, written, artistic, visual, or electronic communication must be prohibited by law.
- Prior conditioning of expressions, such as truthfulness, timeliness, or impartiality is incompatible with the right to freedom of expression, recognized in international instruments.
- Freedom of expression is an integral part of a democracy and should be guaranteed in a country’s legal framework. This fundamental right guarantees that members of a society are able to impart and receive information without prior censorship, restraint or interference. The right to publish freely without constraint is a key condition of freedom of speech and a major pillar of any democratic society.
- While noting that art. 19, para. 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, to refrain from imposing restrictions which are not consistent with paragraph 3 of that article including on: The free flow of information and ideas, including practices such as the banning or closing of publications or other media and the abuse of administrative measures and censorship.
- Too often, the legal framework in a country making the transition to democracy censors campaign speech through the imposition of sanctions for speech that "defames" or "insults" another person, which could include the government, a government official, or a candidate in the electoral campaign. Such provisions are commonly found in the electoral code or media (public information) law. However, the examiner should be thorough in examining the legal framework as such provisions are also found in general constitutional, civil, criminal, and administrative laws. Any law regulating defamation of a person's character or reputation should be included only in the applicable civil law. A provision in the electoral law regulating defamation is not justified. ...Such limitations on free expression violate international human rights law. Additionally, such provisions usually violate free speech guarantees found in a country's constitution. ...This standard, however, is not applicable to prohibitions on inflammatory speech that is calculated to incite another person to violence.
- With these broad principles in mind, the Special Rapporteur wishes to emphasize that in pre-election periods…(b)Censorship of any election programme is note allowed and the media are encouraged to broadcast and/or publish election-related programmes and are not penalized for programmes critical of the government, its policies or the ruling party.
- Media regulations should provide safeguards against political censorship, unfair government advantage and unequal access during the campaign period.
- In accordance with international and regional law, “hate speech” laws should, at a minimum, conform to the following: ...no one should be subject to prior censorship.
- No democracy can thrive unless citizens have the information they need to make the choices required of them in selecting their representatives in government. Similarly, the media cannot thrive if confronted with undue state interference in its broadcasts or if journalists suffer from censorship or intimidation.