Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Award Ceremony
2016 Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Prizes Recognized
Legal Advocates in Turkey and Supreme Court in Norway
NEW YORK, N.Y. (Mar. 14, 2016) — The 2016 Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Prizes will go to the Supreme Court of Norway and to Professor Yaman Akdeniz, Associate Professor Kerem Altiparmak, and Attorney at Law Serkan Cengiz of Turkey. The awards, established last year by Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, recognize judicial decisions and legal representation from around the world that strengthen freedom of expression by promoting international legal norms.
“At a moment in our history when we are witnessing a disturbing trend of efforts around the globe to diminish freedom of the press and the dynamism of civil society generally, it’s especially important for us to shine a light on the courageous courts and advocates who are standing up to protect freedom of expression,” said Bollinger. “This year’s recipients of our Global Freedom of Expression Prizes have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to defending these legal rights and civil liberties and supporting the freedoms of speech and access to information that are not only vital in their own countries, but to all of us as citizens of a global society.”
The 2016 prizes are awarded as follows:
For a Significant Legal Ruling:
Supreme Court of Norway, Rolfsen and Association of Norwegian Editors v. the Norwegian Prosecution Authority
In this case, the Supreme Court of Norway found unanimously for broad protection against exposure of journalistic sources even in the context of a government anti-terror investigation. In contrast to the widespread international tendency to sacrifice freedom of expression in times of crisis, this ruling recognizes the crucial importance of a free press.
For Excellence in Legal Services:
Professor Yaman Akdeniz, Assistant Professor Kerem Altiparmak and Attorney at Law Serkan Cengiz, Cengiz and Others v. Turkey
After an appeal made by Akdeniz, Altiparmak and Cengiz against the order of the Ankara Criminal Court of the First Instance blocking access to YouTube was rejected, they brought a successful action in the European Court of Human Rights challenging the decision on the ground that banning access to entire websites amounts to censorship in contravention of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Cengiz, Akdeniz, and Altiparmak persuaded the ECtHR to recognize that victims of this kind of censorship include individuals, who can legitimately claim that their right to receive and impart information and ideas, have been affected even if they are not directly targeted, establishing broad user rights for further legal challenges.
The nominations came from many regions of the world and reflected a wide range of issues and threats confronting freedom of expression globally, including social media, Internet and online surveillance, national security, political expression, defamation and press censorship.
Agnès Callamard, director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, emphasized that “this year, the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression prizes recognize courts and lawyers that have stood against the misuse of national security, including counter terrorism powers, to threaten the protection of journalist sources and online free speech. We celebrate judges and lawyers who have insisted that freedom of expression is indeed the touchstone of all the freedoms, particularly so in contexts of heightened insecurity, where many people are intent to destroy or curtail these very freedoms.”
President Bollinger will present the 2016 prizes on April 4th at 6 pm in Columbia’s Low Library as part of the annual “Freedom of Expression Global Jurisprudence” conference organized by Columbia Global Freedom of Expression. For more information regarding the Prizes, committee members and the April 4-5 conference, visit https://columbiagfoe.wpengine.com/prizes/.
Past Prize Winners