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 14th of July 1992 in Latvia. 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 Constitution of Latvia protects freedom of expression and information.
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to freely receive, keep and distribute information and to express his or her views. Censorship is prohibited.
The Act on the Press and other Mass Media (1997) remains the general law in the field of mass media and the only one in regards to provisions on the press. It covers freedom of the press, forbids censorship and also containts certain rights and obligations of journalists. The obligations however are not as extensive as in a code of ethics. In September of 2011, an important amendement to the law was introduced, requiring founders and owners of mass media which are capital companies to disclose the beneficial owners to the Company Register thus linking to the Commercial Law. This amendment addresses both media ownership transparency and works towards promoting an independent press with a clear mention of editorial independence.
In the electronic media area there is the recent adoption of the Law on Electronic and Mass Media in 2010 which replaces the 1996 Radio and Television law and transposes the European Audiovisual and Media Services Directive into Latvian Law. Though the law was subject to much debate on issues such as new language requirements in broadcasting.
Building on this legislation is the Electronic Communications Law(2004) which among other aims, includes duties and rights of subscribers, providers, and users of electronic networks and sets out the framework for electonic communications regulation.
The Freedom of Information Act (1998) ensures that the public has access to infromation that is at the disposal of institutions or which an institution in line with its competence has a duty to produce (section 2(1)).
Libel remains criminalized under the Lithuanian Penal Code.Back to top