On March 26th, 2015, the conference organized by the Lithuanian Human Rights Centre, “Expression of Opinion on the Internet: Human Rights, Ethics, and Legal Practice,” took place at the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania. Attorneys, public prosecutors, journalists, scholars, and representatives from state and non-governmental institutions read reports and participated in discussions. A representative from the national LGBT* rights organization LGL the Policy Coordinator (Human Rights) Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius contributed to the conference’s discussion about hate speech and the bounds of the freedom of speech.
The freedoms of speech and expression of opinion are ratified by both international and Lithuanian legislative acts. The expression of opinion is inextricably connected to other human rights and is one of the most important political rights, and a democratic society cannot exist without it. However, this right is not absolute.
Drawing upon the expertise and experiences of foreign partners, conference participants analyzed and compared the current limitations on the freedom of speech, as well as their developments and compatibility with human rights standards. Additionally, they discussed hate crimes and the problems related to restricting the freedom of speech. The discussions also raised questions about where the freedom of expression of opinion ends and hate speech begins, how to distinguish one from the other, and what form of accountability people should be held to.
The NGO Programme Lithuania funded by EEA Grants, the Swedish International Liberal Centre, TEO LT, LGL/ILGA-Europe and the Embassy of Sweden in Lithuania also contributed to organizing the conference.