Adapting rights to changing times | Bangkok Post: opinion

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Adapting rights to changing times

  • Published: | Viewed: 1,270 | Comments: 1
  • Newspaper section: News
  • Writer: Tjaco van den Hout
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It is said that the right to freedom of expression is the oxygen for all other basic human rights. That characterisation is not without merit. Without this primary right _ exercised in full and restricted only where permitted by law _ other basic human rights are more easily violated and impunity reigns. 

At the global level, the right to freedom of expression is protected by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the operative part of which includes the right to "the freedom to seek, receive or impart information of all kinds regardless of frontiers", and in whatever form. To understand the article's full meaning, however, it is imperative to read it together with the interpretative declaration of the Human Rights Committee, General Comment no. 34.

Restrictions on the right to freedom of expression are legitimate only if they satisfy the "three-part test". This means that the restrictions must be provided by law that is; 1) clear and accessible to everyone, 2) proven to be necessary and legitimate to protect the rights or reputations of others, national security or public order, and public health or morals, and 3) proportionate and the least restrictive to achieve the purported aim.

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