View Adopted: 2021.10.13
The author was a dental surgeon at the time of the events who had published a blog post on the Union of United Self-Employed Dentists in his capacity as President of the Union. In his article he accuses certain members of the Nations Council of the National Association of Dental Surgeons of abusing their power. He was later sued for defamation in front of French courts. The higher courts decided against the author and the ECtHR declared his application inadmissible. The author claims that the higher domestic judment is arbitrary within the meaning of article 14 of the Covenant because the court did not take into account or sanction the procedural error committed by the plaintiffs. He also claims a violation of article 19 of the Covenant because his freedom of expression was unjustly restricted. In addition, he claims a violation of freedom of expression in the context of trade-union activity under article 22 of the Covenant.
The Committee considers that the submission made to the ECtHR does not constitute an obstacle to the admissibility of the case before the Committee because it is not able to determine that the case presented by the author has already been the subject of consideration on merits. The Committee considers the claim under article 14 inadmissible because it was not raised before the Court of Cassation, and all remedies were therefore not exhausted. The claim under articles 19 and 22 of the Covenant are admissible.
The Committee must decide whether the restriction imposed on the author's freedom of expression is allowed under article 19 of the Covenant. In the present case, the Committee notes that the author has not demonstrated how the civil judgment was not aimed at protecting the rights and reputation of the plaintiffs. Concerning article 22, the Committee considers that the author has failed to demonstrate a violation of this provision by the State party and that the alleged restrictions related to freedom of expression under article 19 rather than freedom of association as such. The Committee does not consider that the judgment was handed down to the author by reason of his membership of the Union of United Self-Employed Dentists. He also failed to show that the restrictions imposed by the State undermined his exercise of the right to freedom of association in violation of articles 19 and 22. The Committee therefore does not find any violation of these provisions.
13 April 2022