Freedom of expression is a foundation of democratic rights and freedoms–Explain & Illustrate
Freedom of expression is fundamental to human being. Constitution has made it mandatory to allow every citizen vocalize their rights of expression. But to some extent this right is misused which is suggested by history. So there have been restrictions put on this very right at times. Bangladesh constitution is no exception. The reasons can vary from individual breach of dignity to defaming national interest. Again, this very restriction tend is at times misused by higher authority of the state. So a balance needed to be drawn to serve the purpose.
Freedom of expression is a foundation of democratic rights and freedoms. Freedom of expression is essential in establishing the democratic condition and ensuring public rights. Citizens cannot apply their right to vote successfully or take part in public decision-making if they do not have free right of entry to information and ideas and are not able to express their views freely. Freedom of expression is thus not only imperative for individual respect but also to contribution, liability and democracy. Breach of freedom of expression often is often followed by with other violations. It also involves the right to freedom of association and assembly.
Freedom of speech has many dimensions. One of its most vital functions is that decision-making requires the free expression of broad range of vies from all the corners. A decision made after sufficient discussion is likely to be a better one which less improperly reflects the opinions, wellbeing and needs of all concerned, than a decision taken with little or no consultation. Thus freedom of speech is important at all levels in society. It is a key for element government mechanism. A government which does not know what the people feel and think is in a risky position. The government that quiets free speech endangers the inventive nature of its people.
Freedom of speech is significant to governments because when criticism of a government is liberally uttered, the government has the opportunity to act in response to counter undue remarks and criticisms about its actions. On the other hand, when freedom of speech is controlled rumors, absolute wrong statements, comments and unwarranted criticisms are spread by word of mouth. These have a habit of spreading across the length and breadth of the country through exchange and sneakily circulated writings. The government is in no position to answer these views, because they are not publicly stated. It is in a government’s notice to have criticisms in the public arena where it can answer its critics and correct its mistakes. The government generally has right to use to electronic and printing communication far in excess of individuals and groups. It is able to present its view only if the contrasting views are in the open and known.
The freedom of speech is the single most important political right of citizens, although private property is required for its operation. Without free speech no political action is possible and no resistance to injustice and oppression is possible. Without free speech elections would have no meaning at all. Policies of contestants become known to the public and become responsive to public opinion only by virtue of free speech. Between elections the freely expressed opinions of citizen’s help restrain oppressive rule. Without this freedom it is futile to expect political freedom or consequently economic freedom. The sine qua non of a democratic society is the freedom of speech.
Freedom of speech can be restricted by the government to a reasonable degree considering several factors. These rights can only be restricted in certain conditions: to protect the rights and reputations of others or to protect national security, public order, public health or morals. The issue is one of much modern interest in the developed world. Today new technologies have been invented to give extraordinary access to materials which governments could previously keep suppressed in a relatively efficient way. The main issues are pornography; bomb manufacturing instructions etc. which have become obtainable on the world-wide web. In general, however, the issue is likely to fall into categories of book censorship, speech censorship, video censorship, newspaper censorship, and political expression of one description or another.
Article 39 of the Bangladesh Constitution has offered freedom of thought, and sense of right and wrong, and of speech. The state cannot create any law limiting thought and conscience of citizens, it cannot pass any instruction to which line the citizens should express their opinion. Article 39(1) has assured freedom of thought and conscience in complete language as state or any other authority cannot inflict any restriction on any citizen the way she/he thinks. Thought and conscience is the intrinsic attribute of human being and it is a nonstop process through which human personality develops.
Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh ensured freedom of speech and expression. In the article 39 (1, 2) of chapter-3 of this constitution these have been declared:
39 (1) Freedom of thought and conscience is guaranteed. Freedom of thought and conscience, and of speech 39 (2) Subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offense –
a) The right of every citizen of freedom of speech and expression;
(b) freedom of the press, are guaranteed.
Some realistic restrictions found in these articles are as follows-
a) Against the interest of security of the State
b) Against the friendly relation with foreign state
c) Violation of public order
d) Violation of decency or morality
e) Anything related to contempt of court
f) Defamation or incitement to any offense
The restriction can be of any sort like the press restrictions which allow government intervention in media. It may inflict superfluous restrictions on published content. All bodies with regulatory authority over the media, print or broadcast, should be fully sovereign. Dispensation of license applications should be accessible and crystal clear. The powers of transmission regulatory bodies should be restricted to matters relating to licensing and complaints.
Media monopolies are another issue. The right to obtain information from a variety of sources is constrained. State broadcasting monopolies do not provide the public interest but then in some smaller markets, a monopoly newspaper may be the only way to provide access to local news. Regulations on monopolies need to be circumspectly planned to encourage plurality of content, without providing the government with an opportunity to get in the way in the media.
Structural censorship is the employment of economic measures by governments to be in charge of information, include unique allotment of government advertising, government control over printing, sharing networks, or newsprint.
Innovative technologies, such as the Internet, and satellite and digital broadcasting, offer unparalleled chance to uphold freedom of expression and information. Action by the authorities to bind the extent of harmful or illegal content through the use of these technologies should be carefully planned to guarantee that any measures taken do not hold back the vast positive potential of these technologies. The application of rules designed for other media, such as the print or broadcast sectors, may not be suitable for the internet.
Restrictions on behalf of public order and national security can often be extremely expansive and indistinguishable. International and regional bodies have said that such restrictions should only be forced where there is a real risk of harm to a legitimate interest meaning there is a major risk of forthcoming harm; the risk is of serious harm, that is to say hostility or other unlawful action; there is a close underlying link between the risk of harm and the expression; the expression was made with the intention of causing the harm.
Punishment or sanctions escort such restrictions. Often the expression in question may not pose an apparent risk of grave harm to communal interest and still it is subjected to penal sanctions, including detention. International/regional human rights mechanisms on freedom of expression have fulfilled that imprisonment should not be forced except in the very most intense situation where there is deliberate provocation to imminent and serious lawless action.
Defamation laws still continue living in some states to defend public figures from damage to their status. Such laws have a warning effect on freedom of expression and are frequently abused in cases where there is no public interest at stake. International and regional human rights institutions have suggested that such laws should be abolished and replaced with civil defamation laws.
These defamation laws can also be distorted to restrict criticism and dispute relating to public issues. International/regional human rights bodies have said that civil defamation laws should monitor the subsequent principles: public bodies should not be able to bring defamation actions; truth should always be available as a protection; politicians and public officials should have to put up with a superior degree of criticism; publications regarding matters of public interest which are rational in all the circumstances should not be considered defamatory.
A range of laws exists falling under the disdain of court which confines the flow of information in order to defend the administration of justice. Some boundaries prevail to make sure a fair trial and to stay away from a trial by the media. There is a lot of censorship in order to evade scandals in the courtroom. There are growing discussions about whether freedom to censure the judiciary should be restricted in this way. But as with many other questions to do with the freedom of expression, there is a very well equilibrium to be struck between the appeal of opening up the judicial system on the one hand and defending the solitude of victims and their families on the other.
When a person unswervingly communicates to the intellect of another, matter false, to belittle the reputation of a third person, he is on the face of it responsible of a legal wrong, namely defamation. This process can be committed by words, signs or observable symbol which can destroy the reputation of a person by humiliating her/him or exposing him/her to disrespect, ridicule or public detestation and in this way can spoil the esteem of a person in the stage of society and community. Most of the citizens, through their diligent effort, extend their position in the society and want to lead some respect in the esteem of others.
The freedom of speech and expression and freedom of press have been assured by Article 39(2) of the Constitution. Freedom of press has got separate attention. Freedom of press is tacit in the freedom of speech and expression. But these freedoms are thematic to any reasonable boundaries imposed by law in the interests of the security of the state, public order, relations with foreign states, decency or morality, in relation to disrespect of court, slander or stimulation to an offence. All the citizens of Bangladesh can work out their freedom of speech and expression by remaining within the constitutionally stated sphere. If anybody oversteps the boundary she/he will be considered to have violated the constitutional provision and will be subject to sanction of law.
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