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30 J. Ethiopian L. 27 (2018)
Making Space for Non-Liberal Constitutionalism in Free Speech: Lessons from a Comparative Study of the State of Free Speech in Ethiopia and Thailand

handle is hein.journals/jethiol30 and id is 37 raw text is: 








Making Space for Non-Liberal Constitutionalism in Free Speech: Lessons from
a Comparative Study of the State of Free Speech in Ethiopia and Thailandt


                                                                    Mesenbet A ssefa (PhD) *

Abstract

    Just as Bruce Ackerman posited the rise of constitutional democracies in the world,
    Fareed Zakaria outlined a chilling aspect of it in the name of the parallel rise of
    illiberal democracies. The rise of illiberalism in emerging democracies can best be
    demonstrated in their draconic stance on free speech. In particular, in States such as
    Ethiopia and Thailand, the protection afforded to freedom of expression is markedly
    different from the protection offreedom of expression in liberal societies. Both Thailand
    and Ethiopia formally embrace liberal constitutional norms including freedom of
    speech. Nevertheless, both States continue to fall far behind in terms of the protection
    afforded to political speech in liberal democracies. Although the manifestations of the
    illiberal impulses in these States may vary, they demonstrate functional equivalence in
    terms of the similarities of how they respond to speech related offences. Despite these
    illiberal tendencies, however, there is also an   interesting normatively appealing
    constitutional structure of these polities. The basic and underlying ideals of their
    normative constitutional architecture rest on a non-liberal model of constitutionalism
    which is distinct from the liberal model of constitutionalism. Both Ethiopia and
    Thailand provide interesting comparative study of free speech in non-liberal polities.
    The independent existence of both States and their distinctive historical contingencies
    help to illuminate the embedded socio-political, historical and ideological factors that
    inform   their stance on free speech. This article      argues  that a   non-liberal
    constitutionalism in free speech can be defended taking into account the various
    historical contingencies and political realities of both states. However, the article posits
    that this normative constitutional architecture has to be compatible with common
    principles of free speech norms drawn from international and comparative law. By
    doing so, it tries to explain discourses in non-liberal constitutionalism and the various
    historical and   socio-political factors that drive such   normative constitutional
    architecture.

Key terms: Free Speech, Non-Liberal Constitution, Lise-majesti, Ethiopia, Thailand




This article was first presented at the Yale Freedom of Expression Scholars Conference at Yale Law
  School, New Haven, Connecticut, the United States (30 April 2016). It was an honour to have in my
  audience the distinguished First Amendment scholar and advocate Floyd Abrams. I am particularly
  grateful to Prof Thomas Healy of Seton Hall Law School who served as reader for my paper and
  provided invaluable comments to the initial draft of this article. I would also like to extend my
  profound thanks to Prof Michael O'Flaherty, General Director of EU Agency for Fundamental Rights
  and Former Director of Irish Centre for Human Rights who initially inspired me to work on this
  interesting project and financed a field research to Thailand in 2015.
  Mesenbet Assefa, Asst. Professor of Law, Addis Ababa University School of Law (the author can be
  reached at <mesenbet.assefagaau.edu.et> or <tsehay2000ggmail.com>).

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