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Politician should have removed online hate speech on Facebook

Iris, the legal newsletter of the European Audiovisual Observatory in its issue 2023/6 published our contribution presenting the outcome at the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Sanchez v. France.

The ECtHR found that the criminal conviction of a politician for failing to promptly delete hate speech, that was posted by others, from his public Facebook account, did not violate the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Grand Chamber of the ECtHR confirms that imposing criminal liability on internet intermediaries is capable of having chilling effects for the users of Facebook (now: Meta), other social networks or discussion fora. With reference to the Recommendation 1814 (2007) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe the ECtHR also recognises that there is a movement in favour of decriminalising defamation. But it reiterates that this does not extend to hate speech or calls to violence: criminal prosecution, including the imposition of a prison sentence for an offence in the area of political speech may indeed be compatible with freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 10 ECHR in exceptional circumstances, notably in the case of hate speech or incitement to violence.

European Court of Human Rights (Grand Chamber): Sanchez v. France, Iris (online) 2023-6:1/15,

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