Amnesty International: "Freedom of Speech Carries Responsibilities for All"

February 6, 2006

Source: Amnesty International press release

On February 6, 2006 an Amnesty International press release reported, "The right to freedom of opinion and expression should be one of the cornerstones of any society. This right includes 'the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers' (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19). For more than forty years, Amnesty International (AI) has defended this right against attempts by governments across the globe to stifle religious dissent, political opposition and artistic creativity. However, the right to freedom of expression is not absolute -- neither for the creators of material nor their critics. It carries responsibilities and it may, therefore, be subject to restrictions in the name of safeguarding the rights of others. In particular, any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence cannot be considered legitimate exercise of freedom of expression. Under international standards, such 'hate speech' should be prohibited by law. AI calls on the government officials and those responsible for law enforcement and the administration of justice to be guided by these human rights principles in their handling of the current situation."