Lithuania / Supreme Administrative Court / eA-631-143/2017 UAB „15min“ v Public Information Ethics Association (Visuomenės informavimo etikos asociacija)

Key facts of the case: 

On 18 June 2015 news portal www.15min.lt published article, written by the third party S.C., “Proved: Lithuanian institution works for Moscow” („Lietuvos įstaiga dirba Maskvai – įrodyta“), in which author assessed the position of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language (hereinafter – the Commission) regarding the spelling of names of Polish origine in official documents of the Republic of Lithuania. Public Information Ethics Commission decided that the title of the article and statements in the article, used to describe the Commission and its members (for instance, referred as “idiots”, “fools armed with philology education”) violated art. 3 of the Code of Ethics of Lithuanian Journalists and Publishers, which prohibits to impart opinions, which violate law and ethics. The applicant disagreed with the decision by noting that since in the article raised questions were politically important, the critics of the Commission should be justified and considered proportional by the EU and national law as a freedom of expression of the journalist. The court of first instance dismissed the complaint.

Outcome of the case: 

The Supreme Administrative court dismissed the appeal complaint and declared that the restrictions of freedom of expression were necessary to protect morals and reputation of others.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

While speaking about the application of the Convention in the examined case, the Chamber notes that para. 1 of Art. 10 guarantees the right to freedom of expression, covering freedom to hold opinion, receive and impart information and ideas, Art. 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union guarantees freedom of expression, information, media and pluralism. However, it should be highlighted that freedom of expression is not absolute. This is determined in para. 2 of Art. 10 of the Convention, which inter alia sets that the exercise of these freedoms <...> may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, <...> for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others <...>. Considering this, it could be stated that violation of the reputation of others (breach of ethics requirements is related to such violations) might be considered impermissible also within the meaning of Convention.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language): 

Pasisakydama dėl Konvencijos taikymo byloje nagrinėjamoje situacijoje, kolegija pažymi, kad jos 10 straipsnio 1 dalyje yra įtvirtinta teisė į saviraiškos laisvę, apimanti laisvę turėti savo nuomonę, gauti ir skleisti informaciją bei idėjas, o Europos Sąjungos pagrindinių teisių chartijos 11 straipsniu garantuojama saviraiškos, informacijos, žiniasklaidos laisvė ir pliuralizmas. Tačiau pabrėžtina, kad saviraiškos laisvė nėra absoliuti. Tai yra įtvirtinta Konvencijos 10 straipsnio 2 dalyje, kurioje, be kita ko, nurodyta, kad naudojimasis šia laisve <...> gali būti sąlygojamas tokių formalumų, sąlygų, apribojimų ar bausmių, kurias numato įstatymas ir kurios demokratinėje visuomenėje būtinos <...> žmonių sveikatai bei moralei, taip pat kitų asmenų orumui ar teisėms apsaugoti <...>. Atsižvelgiant į tai, konstatuotina, kad kitų asmenų orumo pažeidimai (su tokiais pažeidimais sietini etikos reikalavimų pažeidimai) gali būti pripažinti neleistinais ir Konvencijos taikymo prasme.

Language: 
Lithuanian
Deciding body (original language): 
Lietuvos Vyriausiasis Administracinis Teismas
Language: 
Lithuanian