ICCPR Case Digest

CCPR/C/126/D/2716/2016

Communication

2716/2016

Submission: 2015.10.30

View Adopted: 2019.07.24

Egle Kusaite v. Lithuania

Violation of the right to freedom of expression following conviction for criticism of state prosecutor in Lithuania

Substantive Issues
  • Defamation
  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom of opinion
Relevant Articles
  • Article 19.2
Full Text

Facts

The author is a national of Lithuania who claimed that the state party violated her rights under article 19(2) of the Covenant.

The author submitted that during 2009 to 2013, three criminal cases were initiated against the author on charges of terrorism. During one of the hearings, the author said the following with reference to the prosecutor:

“Nonsense, the State of nonsense, prosecutor, to my mind, is ... commits crimes ..., how can they kill people, let them look at what they are doing to my aunt, relatives ... J.L. and M.D. are criminals.” 

The author was later found guilty of a criminal charge of insulting a civil servant or person performing the functions of public administration. 

Complaint

The author claimed that her criminal conviction for critical statements concerning the prosecutors in charge of the criminal proceedings conducted against her constituted a violation of her right to freedom of expression under article 19 (2) of the Covenant.

Merits

The Committee noted the lawful restrictions that may be placed on the freedom of expression, namely those that are prescribed by law, necessary in a democratic society and in the most serious of cases. 

The Committee further noted that this particular case cannot be regarded as the “most serious of cases”, and concluded that the restrictions on the author’s rights were disproportionate and therefore not shown to be justified pursuant to the conditions set out in article 19 (3) of the Covenant, leading to a violation of article 19(2).

Recommendations

Pursuant to article 2 (3) (a) of the Covenant, the Committee noted that the state party is under an obligation to provide the author with an effective remedy. This requires it to make full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. Accordingly, the State party is obligated, inter alia, to take appropriate steps to provide the author with adequate compensation and reimbursement of any legal costs incurred by her. The State party is also under an obligation to take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.

Separate Opinions

Individual opinion of Committee members José Manuel Santos Pais and Yadh Ben Achour (dissenting)

  • Committee members José Manuel Santos Pais and Yadh Ben Achour elected not to join the majority on the basis that they did not find a violation of article 19(2) on the basis that interference in criminal proceedings as such would set a precedent for abusive intepretations.

  • José Manuel Santos Pais and Yadh Ben Achour noted this is especially worrisome in countries where the judiciary is under severe criticism. 

Implementation

The Committee requested that the state party provide an update outlining measures taken to give effect to the Committee's views within 180 days, or prior to 25 January 2020.

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