Centre for Communication Governance at NLU delhi
International Legislative Material: Secondary

General Comment No. 34, Human Rights Committee (102nd Session, 2011) [Open Access]

This is a Comment on Article 19 of the ICCPR, where the Human Rights Committee examines the extent of the freedom under the Article, as well as the restrictions that may lawfully be imposed by the State, and observes, inter alia, that “Restrictions must be provided by law. Law may include laws of parliamentary privilege and laws of contempt of court.”

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UK Joint Committee Report on Parliamentary Privilege, 1999 [Open Access]

This Report states that the UK Parliament should clarify the scope of parliamentary privileges with respect to free speech, specifically the prohibition of the examination of parliamentary proceedings in any court. Further, it states that there are three exceptions to this general principle which should be provided for in statute. First, nothing should prevent proceedings in Parliament being examined in any court proceedings so far as they relate to the interpretation of an Act of Parliament or subordinate legislation. Second, nothing should preclude the use of parliamentary proceedings in court for the purpose of judicial review of governmental decisions or in other court proceedings in which a governmental decision is material. Third, courts should be able to examine parliamentary proceedings when there is no suggestion that anything forming part of those proceedings was inspired by improper motives or was untrue or misleading and there is no question of legal liability.

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UK Joint Committee Report on Parliamentary Privileges, 2013-14 [Open Access]

This Report discusses the major changes relating to Parliamentary Privileges in the UK since 1999. In the 2002 case of A v. the United Kingdom the European Court of Human Rights held that the absolute freedom of speech in Parliament was proportionate, and did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights—although the Court also asserted its jurisdiction over national parliaments’ privileges. There have been domestic cases in which lower courts have examined proceedings in Parliament, for example to establish the proportionality of legislation for human rights purposes, but there have also been judgments which suggest the courts will be cautious in using documents such as committee reports in evidence. In certain cases originating outside the United Kingdom, evidence derived from parliamentary proceedings has been used to establish motivation for acts outside Parliament, and in one case the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council held that a Member who said that he “did not resile” from what he had said in Parliament had effectively repeated a defamatory statement.

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