EU human rights court: Cyprus violated freedom of expression rules

The European Court of Human Rights found Cyprus violated freedom of expression rules by penalizing journalist Makarios Droushiotis for criticizing a government decision. Droushiotis was fined for defamation in a case related to an article published in 2005. The court’s ruling emphasized the importance of press freedom in a democratic society and awarded Droushiotis compensation for moral damages and court costs. The decision underscores the role of the press as a public watchdog and the public’s right to receive information and ideas.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled against the Republic of Cyprus in the appeal by journalist Makarios Droushiotis alleging there was a violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) regarding freedom of expression.
In 2005, Droushiotis published an article in Politis, the local daily newspaper, criticizing the extension of the service of Akis Papasavvas by decision of the Council of Ministers. He was taken to court, and in 2015 in a civil defamation proceedings, the Cyprus Supreme Court ruled that Droushiotis and the publishers of Politis must pay a fine of €25,000, which the publishing house paid.’This decision is extremely important for freedom of speech and validates the scope for criticism of those in power at a time when in Cyprus freedom of expression is suppressed,’ Droushiotis said.
The ECHR also awarded Droushiotis €12,000 for moral damages and €5,362.50 for court costs. In its decision, the court noted that the press ‘plays a necessary role in a democratic society’. ‘Although it must not exceed certain limits, especially in relation to the protection of the reputation and rights of others, yet it is its duty to convey, in a manner consistent with its duties and responsibilities, information and ideas on all matters of public of interest,’ it said. ‘It is not only the duty of the press to convey such information and ideas, but the public also has the right to receive them,’ it noted. ‘If this were not the case, the press would not be able to play its vital role of public watchdog,’ the court added.