Proposed anti-terrorism legislation in Canada could limit free expression, says OSCE media freedom representative
VIENNA, 13 May 2015 – Legislation designed to fight terrorism now being considered by the Parliament of Canada may limit free expression rights, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović told Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson in a letter last week.
The legal review of Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act 2015, was commissioned by the Representative’s Office and carried out by attorney Toby Mendel, executive director of the Centre for Law and Democracy in Nova Scotia.
Among other things, the legal review notes that it is well established under international law that there is an important difference between mere advocacy or promotion of something, regardless of its harmfulness, and incitement to a harmful result.
“The proposed legislation criminalizes the unclear concepts of advocating or promoting acts or being reckless in recognizing they may be committed,” Mijatović wrote. “Limits on the right to free expression should not be introduced into law when based on such vague notions.”
The legal review suggests changes to the proposed law that would bring it in compliance with international standards and OSCE commitments.
The legal review is available at www.osce.org/fom/156261.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more atwww.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on facebook.com/osce.rfom.