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“Freedom of Expression in Artistic Field” – new HFHR publication

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights Observatory of the Freedom of Media in Poland has launched a publication entitled “Freedom of Expression in the Artistic Field”. It is a compilation of articles edited by two HFHR lawyers, Dominika Bychawska Siniarska and Dorota Głowacka.

The authors discuss a plethora of issues relating to limits of artistic freedom, approaching the subject from various perspectives: primarily legal, but also theological, historical, journalistic and artistic. Significant attention was devoted to the conflict between the freedoms of artistic creation and that of conscience and religion, which appears in cases of artistic interference in the right to protection of religious feelings. Among other things, the book presents a review of judicial matters which involved charges pursued against artists under article 196 of the Criminal Code, such as the cases of Dorota Rabczewska, Dorota Nieznalska, Krzysztof Kuszej, as well as the case of an author of an online confession website and the controversy around the Russian Pussy Riot punk rock protest group. Many articles suggest that a legislative reform should be implemented in order to ensure the full extent of artistic freedom protection in Poland.

The publication also discusses the limits of artistic freedom in the light of applicable international standards, in particular those developed in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. A section of the book analyses the problem of ineffective public financing of artistic projects. The primary recommendation from the authors evaluating the problem is to change the existing model of “cultural policy” used by local government in a way that would improve conditions in which artistic freedom is exercised and ensure better access to cultural assets.

The compilation includes texts written by, among others, Lord Anthony Lester QC, Prof. A Draguła, Prof. I. C. Kamiński, Dr Mateusz Maria Bieczyński, Dr Dawid Sześciło, Dr Joanna Hołda, Katarzyna Hołda, Magdalena Hodak as well as lawyers working with the Helsinki Foundation.

The book was inspired by the conference “Freedom of expression in Academic and Artistic Fields” held in December 2013 at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, an event organised by the HFHR and the Centres for Human Rights at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University and the University of Warsaw.


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