Full case report

Yazar and others v Turkey

Reference Appl No: 00042713/98
Court ECtHR

Judge G Rees P

Date of Judgment 22 Sep 2004


Summary

Human Rights – Defamation – Libel – political speech – whether conviction was a breach of arts 6 or 10 ECHR – whether hearing took place before an independent and impartial tribunal


Facts

The four applicants were members of the People’s Labour Party. They were prosecuted for propaganda undermining the integrity of the State on account of speeches they had made in 1991 and 1992. They were found guilty of the offences by the State Security Court and sentenced to imprisonment.


Issue

Whether the convictions by the State Security Court in connection violated the applicants right to freedom of expression and a hearing before an independent impartial tribunal.


Held

The sentences imposed were disproportionate to the legitimate aim pursued and there had been a breach of article 10. All four of the applicants they had been speaking as politicians and three had not encouraged the use of violence, armed resistance or insurrection or resorted to hate speech. One spoke in terms which were ambiguous on the issue of recourse to force. The inclusion of a military judge gave rise to a violation of article 6(1). The Court considered the most appropriate form of redress was a re-trial and made awards for non-pecuniary damage.


Comment

Once again the ECtHR reaffirms the importance of, and need to protect, political speech.