Intervention with the Ministry of Interior and Administration on the ‘anti-government slogans’ on football fans’ banners
According to the recent media reports the police officers were ordered to remove banners with ‘anti-government slogans’ held up by football fans protesting against the government’s decision to close certain stadiums. The HFHR is convinced that the presence of ‘anti-government slogans’ written on banners does not, on its own, authorise the law enforcement agencies to intervene in the protest.
The press has also reported that the presence of banner slogans ‘unrelated to sport events’ was given by the police as one of arguments in support of the motions to close the stadiums filed with the province governors. The HFHR expressed concern about these reports and intervened with the Ministry of Interior and Administration.
The HFHR is convinced that the presence of ‘anti-government slogans’ written on banners does not, on its own, authorise the law enforcement agencies to intervene in the protest. The intervention reads that ‘to criticism one should respond with the force of argument, not an argument of force’.
The HFHR reminds that in the past sport events were the place where suppressed political views were put out in the open. Public authorities may react to the actions which constitute an abuse of freedom of speech such as the use of derogatory or vulgar language. According to the Foundation, the limits of acceptable restrictions on the freedom of speech at sport facilities should be set in consideration of the experiences of sport associations.