Logo law and pluralism
Logo Università Bicocca

Döner and Others v. Turkey, No. 29994/02, ECtHR (Second Section), 7 March 2017


Balance between freedom of expression and the fight against terrorism. Arbitrary interferences with freedom of expression.

Normative references

Art. 10 ECHR


1. The arrest and deprivation of liberty faced by the applicants within the framework of the proceedings brought against them for merely petitioning the State authorities on a matter of “public interest” amounted to an interference with the exercise of their right to freedom of expression, regardless of whether the applicants have been ultimately acquitted. This could only have been excluded if redress measures had been afforded.

2. The challenges posed by the fight against terrorism do not absolve the national authorities from their obligations under Art. 10 of the Convention. Although limitations on the right of expression are allowed to secure a variety of objectives such as the protection of national security, territorial integrity and public safety, those restrictions still have to respond to a pressing social need in a proportionate manner. A democratic society must afford a proper opportunity for expression.
(Case concerning criminal proceedings brought against the applicants following the submission of petitions requesting education in Kurdish for their children in their respective elementary schools –an act provided for under the Constitution and a medium through which they were exercising their right to freedom of expression. Because of the petition, the applicants were arrested, placed in police custody and tried with aiding and abetting the PKK (Workers’ Party of Kurdistan). Ultimately, they were acquitted of the charges brought against them. The Court found the violation of Art. 10 ECHR, since the interference with the freedom of expression was not necessary in a democratic society).