Effect of the European Court of Human Rights case-law on judgments of Polish courts in the crime of hate speech

Author:Dorota Habrat
Position:Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Rzeszow, Poland
Pages:5-14
SUMMARY

The Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and judgments of the European Court of Human Rights set the basic direction of judicial practice in Poland by introducing elementary principles of human rights observance by public authorities. The aim of the study was to analyze the impact of selected judgments of the European Court of Human Rights on the judicature of... (see full summary)

 
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STUDIES AND COMMENTS
Effect of the European Court of Human Rights case-law on judgments
of Polish courts in the crime of hate speech
Lecturer Dorota HABRAT1
Abstract
The Convention on the Protection of Hu man Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and
judgments of the European Court of Human Rights set the basic direction of judicial
practice in Poland by introducing elementary principles of huma n rights observance by
public authorities. The aim of the study was to analyze the impact of selected judgments of
the European Court of Human Rights on the judicature of courts in Poland regarding the
limits of freedom of expression in the context of the hate crime. The basic standards and the
level of freedom of expression in Polish law, as well as judicial practice in this respect,
have been defined. The analysis of standards has been limited to the aspect of the limits of
freedom of speech in the context of hate speech. The scope of protection of statements in
Polish law is, in principle, consistent with the ECHR jurisprudence. It follows that it is
generally acceptable to extend the scope of penalization of statements containing
incitement to hatred and violence of a racist or xenophobic nature, in particu lar, if th ey
take the form of public insults, slander or threats. The jurisprudence of Polish courts is
increasingly in line with international standards.
Keywords: hate speech, freedom o f speech, European Court of Human Rights,
criminal law
JEL Classification: K14
1. Introduction
Freedom of speech is one of the most important elements of modern
standard of democratic state in the area of fundamental rights and civil liberties. It
is guaranteed by polish Constitution, international legal acts ratified by Poland and
by common legal acts. Freedom of speech is subjective right, which does not have,
however, absolute character. It means, that in some matters it may be constrained
in favour of other legal interest. We deal with that situation in case of acts of hate
speech which is pointed out on spreading hatred, reluctance towards person or
some special groups of population. Legal entities face the problem of drawing the
line between freedom of speech and hate speech. The European Court of Human
Rights in Strasburg stands on behalf of obeying human rights and liberties. It is the
entity which has great authority in Poland not only because of its legally binding
1 Dorota Habrat Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Rzeszow, P oland,
dhabrat@ur.edu.pl.

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