The right to free expression and judicial independence
The European Court of Human Rights held that a judge of the Moscow City Court had been wrongly dismissed from office by the High Judiciary Qualification Panel when she publicly criticized the impartiality of that court and its members. Kudeshkina v. Russia 29492/05  ECHR 342
Article 10 of the Convention provides:
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.; 2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
The Court held that civil servants, such as the applicant, enjoyed the right to freedom of expression. An act motivated by a personal grievance or a personal antagonism or the expectation of personal advantage, including pecuniary gain, would not justify a particularly strong level of protection. Political speech, on the contrary, enjoys special protection under Article 10. Even if an issue under debate has political implications, this is not by itself sufficient to prevent a judge from making any statement on the matter. In this case the interviews were published in the context of the applicant’s election campaign.
In addition, the President of the Supreme Court had improperly disregarded the applicant’s proper request to have the disciplinary proceedings heard before a court other than the one she was criticizing.
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