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Freedom of expression of artists, a vivid debate

February 2024

The diversity of perspectives generated by the debate on “Freedom of expression of artists”, recently organized by juridice.ro, has reconfirmed the complexity of the subject.

The central topic revolved around the recent case in which the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD) applied sanctions to the Bucharest Municipality Museum, the Art Society Cultural Center Foundation, British curator Ruth Hibbard and artist Paul Baraka for the exhibition Nymphs & Zombies, which approached religious themes in a context considered by the CNCD to violate the right to dignity of a large category of people in Romania.

Ileana Nicolescu, Senior Associate in SIMION & BACIU’s Dispute Resolution practice group and one of the guests of the panel, summarized the essence of the event:

It was an opportunity to reflect on the essential role of art in a democratic society and the importance of protecting freedom of expression, along with its important component of social responsibility.

During the debate, Ileana presented the perspective of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the freedom of expression of artists. Her central intervention focused on highlighting the essential role of art in a democratic society as a means of expressing critical opinions and stimulating debates. Ileana also explored the ECHR jurisprudence, which recognizes a wider margin of appreciation for freedom of artistic expression, drawing a clear demarcation between free expression, on the one hand, and incitement to hatred or violence, on the other.

Another important topic addressed during the debate was the Council of Europe’s concern over the pressures artists are currently subjected to and the role of national authorities and courts in balancing artists’ freedom of expression with other protected rights.

The debate was not without controversy, which made it all the more valuable in facilitating a better understanding of different perspectives on artists’ freedom of expression, concluded Ileana.

The recording of the debates is available to subscribers juridice.ro, in Romanian, HERE.


For questions on this rather sensitive topic, or other sophisticated disputes concerning intellectual property aspects, please contact Ileana Nicolescu or your contact among members of our Intellectual Property and Dispute Resolution practices. Details HERE.

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