Article 24 - The rights of the child
Key facts of the case:
Stop Genocidě, an anti-abortion association, held a meeting on a square in the town of Chrastava near an elementary school. The meeting included an exhibition of real photos of aborted human embryos and Nazi symbols, as abortions were compared to the Nazi genocide. Therefore, the municipality banned the event. Stop Genocidě appealed unsuccessfully against that decision to the District Court in Ústí nad Labem and to the Supreme Administrative Court. Finally they filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court demanding the ban be declared unconstitutional.
Stop Genocidě argued that they meant to shock in order to provoke a debate, but they didn’t plan to confront children. They cited the Right of Assembly, Act No. 84/1990 Coll. (Zákon o právu shromažďovacím), and the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms No. 2/1993 Coll. (Listina základních práv a svobod).
The District Court in Ústí nad Labem and the Supreme Administrative Court argued that the freedom of assembly is not absolute, it is limited by certain rights, e.g. rights of the child, which are expressed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms and in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Outcome of the case:
The Constitutional Court decided that the ban on the meeting was right and was not unlawful.
Besides other arguments, the Constitutional Court recalls article 24, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which states that children shall have the right to such a level of protection and care as it is necessary for their well-being, and that in all actions relating to children, whether taken by public authorities or private institutions, the child’s best interests must be a primary consideration. The cited provisions highlight the child’s best interests as the priority viewpoint in any activity relating to children and reflect the fact that, however natural and desirable it is that a child be brought up by his or her parents, children are also unique human beings provided with inalienable, imprescriptible and irreducible rights and freedoms – human beings that should receive the best during their development in order to ensure that the above-mentioned rights will not remain an empty discussion. Therefore, the state has a duty to prevent a child from any negative display that may negatively affect his or her moral and mental development.