Freedom of Expression!
Upholding of defamation claim against MP, for remarks about medical care of Prime Minister, was in breach of her freedom of expression
* In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Erdener v. Turkey [application no. 23497/05] the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights
* The case concerned the upholding of a civil defamation claim against Ms Erdener, who at the time was a Member of the Turkish Parliament, on account of her remarks, reported in the press,
* The Court found in particular that the judgment against Ms Erdener had been disproportionate as her remarks, made in private conversation with a journalist about a subject discussed widely in the media and among parliamentarians, amounted to a personal opinion with a sufficient factual basis.
* À l’origine de l’affaire se trouve une requête [no 23497/05] dirigée contre la République de Turquie et dont une ressortissante de cet État, Mme Yücel Erdener (« la requérante »), a saisi la Cour le 7 juin 2005 en vertu de l’article 34 de la Convention de sauvegarde des droits de l’homme et des libertés fondamentales (« la Convention »).
* La requérante a été représentée par Me S. Sarɪhan, avocat à Ankara. Le gouvernement turc (« le Gouvernement ») a été représenté par son agent.
* La requérante alléguait en particulier que sa condamnation au civil avait constitué une atteinte à ses droits à la liberté de pensée et à la liberté d’expression.
* The Court found that Başkent University had enjoyed the right to defend itself against those allegations, and that as a public entity its reputation-related interests were devoid of any moral dimension, unlike those of private individuals. Accordingly, the court should have weighed up the competing interests of Ms Erdener on the one hand and the university on the other.
* Moreover, the Court found that, even though the damages awarded against Ms Erdener had ultimately not been very high, the judgment had certainly had a deterrent effect on the free public discussion of questions which were of interest to the wider community.
* Consequently, the Court found that the upholding of the defamation claim against Ms Erdener was a disproportionate interference with her right to freedom of expression and was not necessary in a democratic society. It held that there had been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention.
* The Court held that Turkey was to pay Ms Erdener 2,340 euros (EUR) in respect of pecuniary damage, EUR 7,500 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 1,000 for costs and expenses.
* La Cour dit que la Turquie doit verser au requérant 2 340 euros (EUR) pour dommage matériel, 7 500 EUR pour dommage moral, et 1 000 EUR pour frais et dépens
* [Background.] .