and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(1948)—Article 19 states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".
Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. The term "freedom of expression" is sometimes used synonymously but includes any act of seeking, receiving, and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.
Freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the UDHR states that "everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice". The version of Article 19 in the ICCPR later amends this by stating that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary "[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals".
From October 1988 to September 1994
the voices of representatives from Sinn Féin
and several Irish republican
and Loyalist paramilitary
groups were banned by the British government
from being broadcast on television and radio in the United Kingdom. The restrictions, announced by the Home Secretary
, Douglas Hurd
, on 19 October 1988, covered eleven organisations based in Northern Ireland
and followed a heightened period of violence in the history of the Troubles
, as well as the government's belief in a need to prevent Sinn Féin from using the media for political advantage. Broadcasters quickly found ways around the ban, chiefly by using actors to repeat the words of anyone who was prevented from speaking directly. The legislation did not apply during election campaigns, and under certain other circumstances. The restrictions caused difficulties for British journalists who objected to censorship in various other countries, such as Iraq and India. Ireland had its own similar legislation
that banned anyone with links to paramilitary groups from the airwaves, but repealed this in January 1994. This added pressure on the British government to do likewise. The broadcast ban was finally lifted on 16 September 1994, a fortnight after the first Provisional Irish Republican Army
George Orwell statue at the headquarters of the BBC. A defence of free speech in an open society, the wall behind the statue is inscribed with the words "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”, words from George Orwell's proposed preface to Animal Farm (1945).
Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)—Article 19 states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".
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