Protection of Freedom of Speech on the Internet


Duration: November 2021 – September 2022

Donor: The American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI)

About the project: The Internet provides a wealth of information and knowledge opening up new opportunities but also challenges for freedom of expression. The principle of freedom of expression can be applied not only to traditional media, but also to the Internet and all kinds of media platforms, which contribute to the development of democracy and dialogue. Although the right to freedom of expression is a basic human right, it is not absolute. Like most rights, freedom of expression can be legally limited in the situations when the restrictions are reasonable and justified in an open and democratic society. Despite the declarative commitment to freedom of expression, many journalists, human rights lawyers, activists, and ordinary citizens face misdemeanor and criminal charges, civil lawsuits, and different types of persecution.

slThe project “Protection of Freedom of Speech on the Internet” aims to creating a more favorable environment for information pluralism and diversity of opinion in Serbian cyberspace. The potential implications for freedom of expression related to Internet communication are most obvious when speech or expression are criminalized. Different forms of criminalization of “insult” and spreading “fake news” are likely to become increased in the future, which may cause significant damage to freedom of expression. Bearing in mind that civil society has an important function as a guardian of democratic values and human rights, the project has analyzed the changeable legal and regulatory framework, related to freedom of speech on the Internet and relevant case law. Recommendations for policy makers have been created aiming to foster an enabling environment for freedom of expression on the Internet. As part of the project, YUCOM lawyers represented activists and doctors in criminal and civil proceedings brought against them due to criticisms they addressed online. Also, journalists were represented in criminal proceedings for endangering security through social networks. Organizing trainings on Internet security, as one of the activities within the project, the capacities of civil society organizations have also been raised.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights – YUCOM has implemented the project “Protection of Freedom of Speech on the Internet” as part of the Rule of Law Initiative program of the American Bar Association – ABA ROLI.


About Author

Ostavite odgovor