Freedom of Expression

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Cossacks, Pussy Riot, and the Attribution of Conduct: A Comment on Verzilov v. Russia

On 29 August, a Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in Verzilov and others v. Russia (no. 25276/15). This is the second case before the Court to concern the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot, after Mariya Alekhina and Others v. Russia (no. 38004/12). Verzilov concerned an incident during the Sochi Olympics, when Pussy Riot members attempted to perform one of their songs (‘Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland’) behind a poster promoting the Olympics, but were prevented from doing so and assaulted verbally and physically, including through the use of corded whips, by several Cossack troopers. Here’s a video of the incident: In Verzilov, the Court (unsurprisingly) found violations of Articles 3 (bodily integrity) and 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention. There is some interesting, but not terribly novel or controversial, analysis here, for example as to the ‘minimum of severity’ threshold of Article 3 (which the Court finds has been crossed – paras. 71-74, and later finds to have…

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Twitter as Enforcer of the Geneva Conventions

Yesterday Twitter announced a change in its content moderation policies regarding the war in Ukraine. In response to the widespread dissemination of videos and images on the platform of Russian prisoners of war in Ukraine – a reasonably straightforward violation of Article 13(2) of Geneva Convention III, which prohibits exposing PoWs to…

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The EU Ban of RT and Sputnik: Concerns Regarding Freedom of Expression

On 2 March, the EU imposed sanctions against RT and Sputnik (Russian state-owned media outlets) because ‘RT and Sputnik are essential and instrumental in bringing forward and supporting Russia’s aggression against Ukraine’ In this essay, I wish to discuss whether the ban of these outlets in the EU is…

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The Legal Death of Free Speech in Russia

‘[W]hat made me particularly happy was to see that the Committee’s decision [to award him the Nobel Peace Prize] stressed the link between defense of peace and defense of human rights, emphasising that the defense of human rights guarantees a solid ground for genuine long-term international cooperation. … Granting the award to a person who defends political…

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Tackling Football-Related Online Hate Speech: The Role of International Human Rights Law: Part II

Part II: The UK’s response to football-related online hate speech In the first part of this post, we argued that the various expressions of online racial hatred directed at England’s black football players following the country’s defeat in the recent European Championship final, as well as earlier instances of football-related online racial abuse, fall under…

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