While this is not entirely true since limitations on free speech are often necessary for the protection of health, morals and the rights of others, piecemeal limitations to grant government autonomy is precisely what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention of Human rights seek to avoid. Namazie’s comments about limitations on freedom of speech and expression encompass limitations that prevent government accountability and foster oppression of other rights. This is obvious from the examples listed above.
It is impossible, Namazie explains to defend and insist upon other fundamental rights if governments were permitted to legislate against freedom of speech. International standards require that governments only restrain speech and expression to the extent that communities do not end up in a state of lawlessness and as a result unsafe for the masses to co-exist. Aside from enabling the exercise of all civil liberties, free speech and expression is also beneficial to the democratic process. Perhaps the European Court of Justice expressed the import of universal standards of freedom of speech in its ruling in Handyside v.
United Kingdom, 7 December 1976, Application No. 5493/72, 1 EHRR 737. Acknowledging that freedom of expression is an essential democratic tool, the European Court of Justice pointed out that: “In particular, it gives politicians the opportunity to reflect and comment on the preoccupations of public opinion; it thus enables everyone to participate in the free political debate which is at the very core of the concept of a democratic society. ” J. Herbert Altschull credits the First Amendment to the US Constitution as a model law for other nations. He notes that:
“No doctrine announced by the new republic has been more widely cheered around the world than the declaration of free expression. The declaration has fueled the fires of every revolutionary movement for two centuries. ” Today most national constitutions contain language that encompasses a salient link between free speech and freedom of expression. One is indistinguishable from the other. The Role of the Media in Freedom of Speech International law is particularly important with respect to free speech and expression in the media.
The European Court of Justice in Castells v. Spain, 24 April 1992, Application No. 11798/85, 14 EHRR 445 explained how the importance of the role of the press. Freedom of the press provides the public with the information necessary for the formation concerning the attitudes and opinions of political leaders. In turn politicians have the wherewithal via the press to consider public opinion and to comment accordingly. In other words, freedom of the press: “enables everyone to participate in the free political debate which is at the very core of the concept of a democratic society. ”