Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
Within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the:
Right to freedom of opinion and expression: Article 19 Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
The resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 adopted by the General Assembly came into force on the 4th of November 1980 in France. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
Section 1:Rights and Freedoms
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
Title II: Freedoms
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
2. The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected.
The German Constitution guarantees the constitutional framework for freedom of expression in Article 5:
“Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing, and pictures and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship”.
The principle of press freedom is also emphasized by each of the Länder press laws, which specify and the Federal Constitution also grants judicial power over broadcasting to the Länder.
Germany is a federal republic consisting of 16 states which share their legislative power with the Federation. Consequently, laws regarding the press are adopted by each Länder; for example, publication of newspapers is subject to the press licensing laws of the individual states in which they are published. Furthermore, the Länder’s laws provide for right of the press to information, press accountability, right of reply, obligation to clearly identify author and imprint of publications. While the Federal Freedom of Information Law adopted in 2006 allows for easier access to information from different governmental agencies and organizations.
In terms of broadcasting, the recent Interstate Treaty on Broadcasting and Telemedia (Interstate Broadcasting Treaty, April 2010) contains general provisions applying to both public-service and commercial broadcasting. Adding to this is the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Human Dignity and the Protection of Minors in Broadcasting and in Telemedia (Interstate Treaty on the protection of minors – JMStV), in force since April 2010.Back to top