ICCPR Case Digest

CCPR/C/127/D/2955/2017

Communication

2955/2017

Submission: 2016.02.26

View Adopted: 2019.11.08

Konstantin Zhukovsky v. Belarus (Expression)

Arbitrary restriction on freedom of expression of journalist, state unable to provide justification

Substantive Issues
  • Exhaustion of domestic remedies
  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom to impart information
Relevant Articles
  • Article 19
  • Article 2.2
  • Article 2.3 (b)
Full Text

Facts

The author was a Belarus national who worked as a freelance journalist, collecting information in Belarus and distributing it on the internet. Throughout 2015 he was brought before the national courts and charged with significant administrative fines because of his journalistic activity.

The factual claim relates to six separate incidents, largely involving recorded interviews with local residents, and residents of surrounding areas. The author claims that Belarus violated his rights under article 19 of the Covenant on the basis that by filming and disseminating video, he was exercising his right to obtain and impart information without undermining public order, public interest, health, or the rights and freedoms of others.

Merits

The Committee recalled that as noted in General Comment 34, the right to freedom of expression is essential for any society and a foundation state for every free and democratic society, and it is for a State party to demonstrate that restrictions placed on these rights are necessary and proportionate.

In this case, neither the State party nor the domestic courts provided any substantive justification as to why the restrictions on the distribution of the videos created by the author were necessary or proportionate. On this basis, the Committee found a violation of Article 19(2) of the Covenant. 

Recommendations

The Committee recommended the State party provide the author with an effective remedy, including full reparation to all individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. This included:

  • Provide steps to reimburse any expenses incurred by the author and to provide him with adequate compensation;
  • Take all necessary steps to prevent similar violations in the future, including reviewing national legislation and its implementation in order to ensure it's compatibbility with Article 19 of the Covenant. 

Implementation

The Committee requested that the state party provide information about the measures taken to give effect to the Committee's views by 8 May 2020, as well as widely disseminate the views of the Committee in the official languages of the state party.

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