Application Number 32307/96
European Court of Human Rights
The applicant was sentenced to imprisonment of no less than eight years for carrying out activities contrary to the National Socialism Prohibition Act. The Court relied on Article 17, finding the application manifestly ill-founded.
Date: 1 February 2000
Description of applicant(s): Citizen
Brief description of facts: On 25 January 1992, the applicant was arrested on suspicion of having performed activities inspired by National Socialist ideas. He had, amongst others, recruited new members, organized paramilitary training camps and transmitted national socialist ideology. On 16 May 1995 the applicant filed a plea of nullity and an appeal against sentence but six days later the Supreme Court confirmed the conviction while reducing the sentence to eight years’ imprisonment.
(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Not specifically stated in judgment
The Court’s assessment of the impugned speech: The Court concluded that in light of Article 17, the applicant’s conviction was necessary in a democratic society within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 10.
Important paragraph(s) from the judgement:
As regards section 3a (2) of the Prohibition Act, under which the applicant was convicted, the Court notes that it prohibits the founding or leading of groups which aim at undermining public order or the autonomy or independence of the Austrian Republic through its members’ activities inspired by National Socialist ideas. The applicant was actually found guilty of having held a leading position within such a group. National Socialism is a totalitarian doctrine incompatible with democracy and human rights and its adherents undoubtedly pursue aims of the kind referred to in Article 17 of the Convention. In these circumstances, the Court concludes that it derives from Article 17 that the applicant’s conviction was necessary in a democratic society within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 10.
ECHR Article: Article 17
Decision: Manifestly ill-founded
Use of ‘hate speech’ by the Court in its assessment? No