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DEFINITION

Freedom of speech is the concept of the inherent human right to voice ones opinion publicy without fear of
censorship or punishment through speech, writing, and other forms of communication but without
deliberately causing harm to others' charachter and/or reputation by false or misleading statements. Freedom
of press is part of freedom of expression.

Freedom of speech is granted unambiguous protection in international law by


the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which is binding on around 150
nations.
Nations like Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Monaco, Australia and the Netherlands adopted, in
1948, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights that provides, in Article 19, that:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold
opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any
media and regardless of frontiers.
EARLY HISTORY
England:during colonial times, English speech regulations were rather restrictive. Until 1694
England had an elaborate system of licensing; no publication was allowed without the
accompaniment of the government-granted license.
Colonies: during English colonialism in America, there were fewer prosecutions for seditious libel
than England, but other controls over dissident speech existed. From 1607 to 1700 the colonists
freedom of speech expanded dramatically, laying a foundation for the political dissent that flowered
among the Revolutionary generation.
In the 1780s after the American Revolutionary War, debate over the adoption of a new Constitution
resulted in a division between Federalists and Anti-Federalists.During and after the Constitution
ratification process, Anti-Federalists and state legislatures expressed concern that the new
Constitution placed too much emphasis on the power of the federal government. The drafting and
eventual adoption of the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment, was, in large part, a result
of these concerns, as the Bill of Rights limited the power of the federal government.
In 1789, Congress which contained several of the ratifiers of the First Amendment at the time,
adopted the Alien and Sedition Acts. The laws prohibited the publication of "false, scandalous, and
writings against the government of the United States.
MODERN VIEW
As a result of the jurisprudence of the Warren Court in the mid-to-late 20th century, the Court has
moved towards a baseline default rule under which freedom of speech is generally presumed to be
protected, unless a specific exception applies. Therefore, apart from certain narrow exceptions, the
government normally cannot regulate the content of speech.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH BY COUNTRY
Africa: The majority of African constitution provide legal protection for freedom of speech. Eritrea
is now the largest prison for journalists.
Asia: there is no clear correlation between legal and constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech
and actual practices among Asian nations.
Europe: the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union has been legally binding since
December 1, 2009 when the Treaty of Lisbon became fully ratified and effective. Article 11 of the
Charter provides that
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.
2. The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected.
South America: In Brazil, freedom of speech is a Constitutional right. Article Five of
the Constitution of Brazil establishes that the "expression of thought is free, anonymity being
forbidden". In Ecuador Accusations or insults without factual basis can be punished by three months
to three years in prison according to Article 494 of Ecuador's penal code.