The fact that the only Polish newspaper in Lithuania- the Vilnius courier – submitted a complaint about the Lithuanian state to the European Tribunal of Human Rights in Strasburg was described as an unprecedented phenomenon. According to the Lithuanian historian and political scientist, Antanas Kułalaskuskas, the conflict between a local journalist from a national minority and the Lithuanian Commission for Journalist Ethics, is hitting the international forum.
The newspaper’s accusation towards the Commission on Journalism Ethics relates to their adverse for the newspaper decision about printing an article written by professor Krzysztof Buchowski titled “How a pole saw a Lithuanian during the interwar period”. The article was read on a Polish-Lithuanian science conference in November.
In the year of 2006, the Commission accused the newspaper of encouraging hatred charged with nationality matters.
The editors of the Vilnius Courier has complained about this verdict to the court and lost the case. The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania stated that the Lithuanian Commission on Journalism Ethics had the right to adjudge that the Vilnius Courier encouraged hatred and that punishment incurred by the editors was reasonable.
Meanwhile, the European Foundation of Human Rights thinks that this verdict is not lawful according to the international law, which Lithuania has also ratified. The verdict goes against article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which guarantees everybody the freedom of speech.
Translated by Kamil Szwarc within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.