Case of European Court of Human Rights, October 09, 2012 (case Szima v. Hungary)

Resolution Date:October 09, 2012

Remainder inadmissible No violation of Article 10 - Freedom of expression -{General} (Article 10-1 - Freedom of expression) read in the light of Article 11 - (Art. 11) Freedom of assembly and association


Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 156

October 2012

Szima v. Hungary - 29723/11

Judgment 9.10.2012 [Section II]

Article 10

Article 10-1

Freedom of expression

Fine and demotion of police-union leader for allegations undermining police force: no violation

Facts – The applicant, a retired senior police officer, was at the material time the chairperson of Tettrekész Police Trade Union. In July 2009 she published a number of writings on the Trade Union’s website, which was effectively under her editorial control, concerning outstanding remuneration due to police staff, alleged nepotism and undue political influence in the force, and dubious qualifications of senior police staff. She was found guilty of instigation to insubordination, and sentenced to a fine and demotion.

Law – Article 10 read in the light of Article 11: As the applicant was a trade-union leader Article 10 was interpreted in light of Article 11 of the Convention. The applicant’s sentence constituted interference with Article 10 that was prescribed by law and pursued the legitimate aim of preventing disorder or crime by preserving order in the armed forces.

Article 10 applied to members of the armed forces just as it did to all other persons within the jurisdiction of the Contracting States. However, the proper functioning of the armed forces was hardly imaginable without legal rules designed to prevent servicemen from undermining discipline. When considering the applicant’s trade-union membership, the Court noted that trade-union members must be able to express to their employer their demands as to conditions of work as otherwise they would be deprived of an essential means of action.

In the present case, many of the statements by the applicant brought up labour issues and so their sanctioning appeared questionable. However, she had also repeatedly...

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