Polish pop singer wins free speech case at Strasbourg

Polish pop singer wins free speech case at Strasbourg

A pop singer in Poland who said the authors of the Bible were “wasted from drinking wine and smoking weed” has succeeded in her appeal against conviction to the European Court of Human Rights.

Dorota Rabczewska, known as ‘Doda’, one of the country’s most successful artists, made the comments in 2009. The court ruled that she was exercising her right to free speech.

It ordered Poland to pay her €10,000 in compensation.

Doda had been convicted on grounds that her remarks were deliberately offensive and indicated contempt for believers. The appellate courts agreed, prompting her to appeal to the ECtHR in 2013.

The courts said in its ruling that her statements “could shock or disturb some people” but that they were protected under the European Convention on Human Rights so long as they did not incite hatred or religious intolerance.

It also said the domestic courts had not argued that her statements were hate speech or that they could stir up or justify violence, intolerance or hatred.

“Indeed, the domestic courts had failed to comprehensively assess the wider context of the applicant’s statements, which had not meant to contribute to any serious debate on religious matters but had been made in reply to questions about her private life, in a frivolous and colourful language intended to spark her young audience’s interest,” the court said.

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