Open Topics/Freedom of Speech


Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship or limitation. The synonymous term freedom of expression is sometimes used to indicate not only freedom of verbal speech but any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, such as on "hate speech".

The right to freedom of speech is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR recognizes the right to freedom of speech as "the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression". Furthermore freedom of speech is recognized in European, inter-American and African regional human rights law.

Freedom of speech and expression are closely related, yet distinct from, the concept of freedom of thought.

The Right To Freedom Of Speech And Expression


Freedom of speech, or the freedom of expression, is recognized in international and regional human rights law. The right is enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

The freedom of speech can be found in early human rights documents, such as Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789), a key document of the French Revolution. The Declaration provides for freedom of expression in Article 11, which states that:

"The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law."

Based on John Stuart Mill's arguments, freedom of speech today is understood as a multi-faceted right that includes not only the right to express, or disseminate, information and ideas, but three further distinct aspects:

* the right to seek information and ideas;
* the right to receive information and ideas;
* the right to impart information and ideas.

International, regional and national standards also recognize that freedom of speech, as the freedom of expression, includes any medium, be it orally, in written, in print, through the Internet or through art forms. This means that the protection of freedom of speech as a right includes not only the content, but also the means of expression.

Relationship To Other Rights


The right to freedom of speech is closely related to other rights, and may be limited when conflicting with other rights (see Limitations on freedom of speech). The right to freedom of speech is particularly important for media, which plays a special role as the bearer of the general right to freedom of expression for all (see freedom of the press). The right to freedom of expression is also related to the right to a fair trial and court proceeding which may limit access to the search for information or determine the opportunity and means in which freedom of expression is manifested within court proceedings. As a general principle freedom of expression may not limit the right to privacy, as well as the honor and reputation of others. However greater latitude is given when criticism of public figures is involved.

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This article is a shortened version of the Freedom of Speech article on Wikipedia. For more on the topic, or to participate in the content production of the article, please go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_speech.