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Turkey: YouTube block breached human rights law

Judges ruled today that Turkey did violate European human rights law when it blocked access to YouTube for more than two years.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Cengiz and Others v. Turkey (applications nos. 48226/10 and 14027/11) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been

a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The complaint, brought by applicants Serkan Cengiz, Yaman Akdeniz and Kerem Altıparmak, concerned the blocking of access to YouTube, a website enabling users to send, view and share videos.

The court found in particular that the applicants, all academics in different universities, had been prevented from accessing YouTube for a lengthy period of time and that, as active users, and having regard to the circumstances of the case, they could legitimately claim that the blocking order in question had affected their right to receive and impart information and ideas.

The court also observed that YouTube was a single platform which enabled information of specific interest, particularly on political and social matters, to be broadcast and citizen journalism to emerge.

The court also found that there was no provision in the law allowing the domestic courts to impose a blanket blocking order on access to the Internet, and in the present case to YouTube, on account of one of its contents.

Article 41 (Just satisfaction)

The court held that the finding of a violation constituted in itself sufficient just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage suffered by Cengiz.

It rejected the claim for just satisfaction lodged by Akdeniz and Altıparmak.

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