Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Dr. Byron Eubanks

Second Advisor

Dr. Jeff Root

Third Advisor

Dr. Barbara Pemberton

Abstract

Free speech. The words of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States are close to hearts of Americans, especially journalists. However, not every country has the same amount of freedom granted in the US, and most Americans recognize this. Countries such as China, North Korea, and Libya are notorious for media censorship, but Americans would not typically add England to this list. In recent years, however, cases of media censorship in England that would shock journalists have come to light.

Controversy over censorship results from tension between Article 8 and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Ten member states of the Council of Europe adopted and ratified the European Convention on Human Rights in 1950. The Convention give individuals the right to bring their case before the European Court of Human Rights if they think their rights have been violated under the Convention by a state party. This meant, however, that a case in the UK could not go before the Court until it had gone through all the UK courts, a process which could take up to seven years. Because of this, the Parliament passed the Human Rights Act of 1998, making the European Convention on Human Rights apply to domestic law. The act went into full effect in October 2000.

The two articles that then to come into conflict with each other are Article 8, which grants the right to respect for private and family life, and Article 10, which grants the right of freedom of expression. The rights to general privacy and freedom of expression had never been established as constitutional rights in England until Human Rights Act 1998 was passed. This meant that both rights had to be hammered out, a task that has proved to be very difficult as the new rights have a tendency to come into conflict with each other.

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