Global Freedom of Expression

Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Prize Winners 2016

Prize Winners 2016

For Excellence in Legal Services:


Kerem Altiparmak, Director of Human Rights Centre, Faculty of Political Sciences, Ankara University, Dunja Mijatovic, Representative on Freedom of the Media, OSCE, Yaman Akdeniz, Professor of Law, Istanbul Bilgi University, Photo Credit: Eileen Barroso / Columbia University

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.

For a Significant Legal Ruling:

Vidar Stromme

Vidar Stromme, Chairman, SCHJODT Law Firm, Photo Credit: Eileen Barroso / Columbia University

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.

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 presented the 2016 prizes on April 4th in Columbia’s Low Library as part of the annual “Justice for Free Expression” conference organised by Columbia Global Freedom of Expression.