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Balsytė-Lideikienė v. Lithuania, No. 72596/01, ECtHR (Third Section), 4 November 2008


Incitement to anti-Semitic hatred through the use of the press. Lawful interference with freedom of expression.

Normative references

Art. 10 ECHR


Nationalist and ethnocentric expressions, which are capable of injuring the reputation and rights of others by inciting ethnic hatred, fall outside the scope of protection afforded by Article 10 ECHR. Freedom of expression can be subject to restrictions "necessary in a democratic society".

(In the present case, the applicant, the founder and owner of a publishing company, alleged a breach of Article 10 ECHR on account of the administrative penalties imposed on her following the publication of the “Lithuanian calendar 2000”, which contained statements inciting to ethnic hatred. Specifically, the calendar referred to the Poles and the Jews people as perpetrators of war crimes and genocide against the Lithuanians. Having regard to the content of the writing and to the context in which it was published, the Court stated that domestic authorities did not overstep their margin of appreciation when they considered that there was the pressing social need to take measures against the applicant. Moreover, it found that the punishment imposed on her was proportionate to the legitimate aimed pursued – namely the protection of reputation or rights of others. Accordingly, there has been no illegitimate interference with her freedom of expression).