Browsing by Author "Neuvonen, Riku"

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  • Neuvonen, Riku (Lakimiesliiton kustannus, 2012)
    Freedom of Speech Regulation in Finland Freedom of speech is a philosophy and a human right. This doctoral thesis aims to raise discussion about the content and role of freedom of speech as a global philosophy, as a European human right and as a fundamental right in Finnish legislation. This thesis focuses on regulation in practice, especially in the Finnish context. Freedom of speech as a fundamental and human right has been expressed in article 12 of the Finnish Constitution Act, article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In this thesis, freedom of speech is a synonym to freedom of expression and includes the freedom of science and the arts (article 16.3 of Finnish Constitution Act) and some aspects of the freedom of assembly and the freedom of information. Finland was part of Sweden from the 13th century to the year 1809. During that period, freedom of the press was enacted in 1766 but up to 1812 was repealed many times. The separation from Sweden in 1809 helped to form Finland as a nation, but censorship was reinforced by Russian authorities. Every book, paper and play had to be examined by a local censor. During the same period, the Finnish Estates began to build Finland as a nation and to civilize Finnish people. This project to form the Finnish public sphere was organized from the top down and was directed by the literate elite. These elite-driven projects led to a deeper separation between classes and contributed to future problems. Preventive censorship was suspended by the Freedom of Speech, Assembling and Association Act of 1906. These freedoms were also guaranteed in the Constitution Act of 1919, which entered into force after Finnish independence and the Civil War. The Freedom of the Press Act of 1919 included the ability to suppress the press, and that ability was used against Communist and left wing publications in the 1920s and 1930s. After the Second World War and during the Cold War era, the relationship with the Soviet Union required a national consensus and discretion in the media. The need for national consensus strengthened the political will, and questions about fundamental rights were put aside until the 1990s. The content of the article 12 § of the Finnish Constitution consists of the rights to impart and receive information, opinions and other messages. Freedom of speech has been little discussed in Finnish jurisprudence, and there is no freedom of speech doctrine in Finland. For example, in the US, the freedom of speech doctrine was developed over the 20th century by the Supreme Court, and in Germany, the Bundesverfassungsgericht has a developed strong doctrine. My thesis is that in Finland, freedom of speech was neglected until a new chapter of fundamental rights began in 1995. There was no legislation about television or radio until 1998, and film inspection was based on censorship until 2001. During the 21st century, legislators and courts in Finland have not easily understood the new freedom of speech norms and rights provided by the European Convention on Human Rights and the renewed Finnish Constitution of 2000. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that limitations on the freedom of speech must be necessary in a democratic society . The balance between rights starts with a presumption in favour of the freedom of speech. It is clear from the Court s jurisprudence that the freedom of speech as a human right covers all kinds of speech and conduct with the intention to participate in public debate. This doctrine about public debate must be understood as a key part of the new content-based freedom of speech theory. In this thesis, this content-based theory is analysed and defended. The Finnish Committee for Constitutional Law has stated that commercial expression does not constitute the core of the freedom of speech. In addition, political speech and some other forms of speech do belong to the very core of the freedom of speech. However, the Committee has not constructed a theory for its concept of the freedom of speech. In contrast, the Supreme Court, the German Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights have developed theories of freedom of speech. In this sense Finnish jurisprudence is behind the global process and, the need Finnish theory of freedom of speech is urgent. In this thesis I propose that this Finnish theory of freedom of speech should be based on content. The content-based theory is flexible and able to cope with questions about the Internet and media convergence. My main thesis in this study is that the freedom of speech covers all media and that a freedom of speech doctrine must focus on the content of the messages. The rights of minorities should be respected, and freedom of speech is an ideal tool for creating pluralism and diversity in democratic societies. However, extreme hate speech, child pornography, malicious libel and interference with privacy must be regulated. Freedom of speech is an essential part of democracy, but it needs limitations and regulation. The primary problem is that in Finland, limitations and regulations are starting points, not outcomes. Therefore, Finnish jurisprudence must create its own freedom of speech doctrine, not just adopt directives and protocols from the EU.