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EuropeanConventionHandbookForPolice

Policing democratic

Policing democratic freedoms Page 97 be reflected in the composition of the police service. This is not problematic in itself. However, care must be taken to ensure that the culture and ethos of the police does not become associated exclusively with that religion. In addition, it may be necessary to take steps to prevent proselytism by officers within the police service. This is because, in a disciplined environment such as exists in the police and armed forces, it may be seen as a form of harassment or abuse of power. 278 Freedom of expression: Article 10, European Convention on Human Rights Article 10 protects the right to freedom of expression, which the Strasbourg Court has described as ‘one of the essential foundations of a democratic society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for each individual’s self-fulfilment.’ 279 It applies not only to ideas that are favourably received, but also to ideas that may shock or offend certain sections of the population. 280 A wide range of forms of expression are covered by Article 10. There is no definitive list, but the European Court of Human Rights has held that the following media are covered: books, 281 cartoons, 282 the internet, 283 radio, 284 and works of art. 285 A wide spectrum of opinions, too, fall within the scope of Article 10, for example criticism of political figures 286 and challenges to religious beliefs. 287 There is often a close overlap with other rights. When a person exercises their right to freedom of expression, this may well (i) involve the exercise of other rights and (ii) have implications for others. For example, a person expressing religious views in public may be exercising their rights under Articles 9 and 10 simultaneously. Article 11 guaranteeing freedom of assembly may also be relevant, but in a case against Hungary, the Court stated ‘that the mere fact that an expression occurs in the public space does not necessarily turn such an event into an assembly.’ 288 278 Larissis v Greece, judgment of 24 February 1998 at paragraph 51. 279 Handyside v the United Kingdom, judgment of 7 December 1976. 280 Ibid. 281 Ibid. 282 Leroy v France, judgment of 2 October 2008. 283 Perrin v the United Kingdom, Court decision of 18 October 2005. 284 Barthold v Germany, judgment of 23 March 1985. 285 Muller v Switzerland, judgment of 24 May 1988. 286 Oberschlick v Austria, judgment of 23 May 1991. 287 Otto-Preminger Institute v Austria, judgment of 20 September 1994. 288 Faber v Hungary, judgment of 24 July 2012 at paragraph 38.

The European Convention on Human Rights and Policing Page 98 ■ In Chorherr v Austria, the applicant carried a placard with a political message at a public assembly. He was therefore expressing political opinions, which brought him within the scope of Article 10. His placard annoyed certain members of the assembly, both in terms of its message and as it blocked their view. He refused to comply with a police request to cease his demonstration on the ground that it was disturbing public order. He was then arrested and fined. The Strasbourg Court found no violation of Article 10, as both his arrest and conviction were in accordance with Austrian law and intended to prevent disorder at the assembly. 289 Assembly and association: Article 11, European Convention on Human Rights Article 11 guarantees the right to peaceful assembly and association with others. It extends to peaceful gatherings, including marches, processions, parades, private and public meetings, demonstrations and counter-demonstrations. The rights granted by Article 11 are subject to certain limitations, and there is a specific provision allowing for the imposition of restrictions on the freedom of association of certain groups, including police. The task of ensuring freedom of assembly places great demands on the police, both in terms of operational requirements and in terms of ensuring compliance with domestic and international law. Apart from the requirement to refrain from unjustified interferences, there may also be situations where the police are under a positive obligation to protect the freedom of association from attack by others, including private individuals. ■ In Oya Ataman v Turkey, the Court stated that ‘where demonstrators do not engage in acts of violence, it is important for the public authorities to show a certain degree of tolerance towards peaceful gatherings if the freedom of assembly guaranteed by Article 11 of the Convention is not to be deprived of all substance.’ 290 Article 11 does not protect violent assembly. If elements in an assembly are engaged in violent acts, police action should be focussed on those elements. 291 But an assembly needs at least a minimum constituent element. Gatherings of small numbers of people may not, in Convention terms, constitute an assembly. 289 Chorherr v Austria, judgment of 25 August 1993 at paragraph 33. 290 Oya Ataman v Turkey, judgment of 5 December 2006 at paragraphs 41 and 42. 291 Ziliberberg v Moldova, judgment of 1 February 2005.