41 Colum. J. Transnat'l L. 861 (2002-2003)
Criminal Defamation and Insult Laws: An Infringement on the Freedom of Expression in European and Post-Communist Jurisdictions

handle is hein.journals/cjtl41 and id is 869 raw text is: LL.M. Comments
Criminal Defamation and Insult Laws: An
Infringement on the Freedom of Expression in
European and Post-Communist Jurisdictions
A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other
right that freemen prize.'
Winston Churchill
I.     INTRODUCTION
A fundamental characteristic of democratic states is the
existence of the right to freedom of expression, which subsumes the
right to a free press. While some countries have opted to fully protect
this latter freedom through legislation, others, including some
European countries, have safeguarded it only to varying degrees.
Freedom of expression is a guaranteed constitutional right in
almost all Western and Eastern European countries - in both stable
and emerging democracies. Nevertheless, nearly all European states
possess, at least on the books, criminal laws that seek to protect
government institutions and public officials against insult or
defamation.
These laws are structured and named differently within each
country, but often have similar intentions - they punish open
discussion and criticism of government and public officials. In
attempts to conceal wrongdoing or escape criticism, governments can
enforce criminal defamation and insult laws and deter the press from
disclosing information to the public. While not all governments
enforce these laws regularly, in states where enforcement is
customary, the press is often forced to practice self-censorship for
fear of criminal liability. For this reason, the kind of information
1. PRESS AND SPEECH FREEDOMS IN THE WORLD, FROM ANTIQUITY UNTIL 1998: A
CHRONOLOGY 186 (1998).

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