On 16 November, human rights judges will hear more legal arguments in the case of the Swiss ‘Extraterrestrials Movement’ poster ban.
The case (Mouvement Raelien Suisse v. Switzerland – Application no. 16354/06) concerns the authorities’ refusal to allow a non-profit organisation to put up posters featuring extraterrestrials and a flying saucer because it had engaged in activities considered immoral.
The applicant association, established in 1977, is a non-profit association registered in Rennaz (Canton of Vaud) set up to make contact with extraterrestrials.
In 2001, the association requested permission from the Neuchâtel police to put up posters featuring the faces of extraterrestrial, a flying saucer and the Raëlien Movement’s Internet address and telephone number.
The authorities denied permission to put up the posters on the ground that the organisation had engaged in activities that were immoral and contrary to public order. It promoted “geniocracy”, a political model based on intellectual coefficient and human cloning and had been found by a domestic court to “theoretically” advocate
paedophilia and incest and had been the subject of criminal complaints about sexual practices concerning children.
The domestic courts upheld the authorities’ decision. While the administrative court accepted that the organisation was entitled to freedom of opinion and religious freedom, it found that its views on “geniocracy” and its criticism of contemporary democracies were capable of undermining public order, safety and morals.
The Federal Court dismissed the organisation’s appeal, holding that making public space available for its poster campaign might have given the impression that the State tolerated or approved of such conduct.
The organisation complained in particular that the authorities’ refusal to allow its poster campaign violated its rights under Article 10 (freedom of expression).
In its Chamber judgment of 13 January 2011, the Court held, by majority, that there had been no violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the Convention.
The case was referred to the Grand Chamber at the applicant’s request.
The hearing will be broadcast from 14h30 on the Court’s Internet site (www.echr.coe.int).