ECHR

ECHR Recourse: Last Hope for Freedom of Expression of People with Down Syndrome

ECHR Recourse for Dear Future Mom clip

By ECLJ1494496057914

The Jérôme Lejeune Foundation, assisted by the ECLJ, has just filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the decision of the Council of State (French Conseil d'État) which approved the censorship of the clip "Dear Future Mom"* by the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA, the French administrative authority for television).

Broadcast on World Down Syndrome Day in 2014, the video Dear Future Mom addresses a strong and comforting message to pregnant women who are expecting a Down syndrome child and are worried about their possible future. In the video, trisomic children expressed, in moving terms, their capacity for happiness, their abilities, and their love for their parents. This expression was not considered to be of "general interest" by the CSA, which censored its broadcasting in France.

The application, filed on 9 May, is based on the infringement of freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. By forbidding the video to appear on television, the CSA went against commitments France made to integrate the weakest of its members. To people with Down syndrome, it has meant that their visibility, their very existence, pose a problem to society.

In addition to the infringement on their freedom of expression, these children have also been manifestly discriminated against because of their genomes. Such discrimination is condemned by Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Censorship and discrimination of people with Down syndrome: a French exception?

Freedom of expression and respect for the most vulnerable constitute a golden rule for the European institutions. There is no doubt that the European Court of Human Rights should question this sad "French exception" and quash the censorship of the expression of happiness in France.

 

*Dear future Mom censured in France : Relevant facts

During March 2014, the video Dear Future Mom was featured on several television channels (TF1, M6, D8 and Canal +), showing children and young adults with Down Syndrome.

Dear future Mom has been a global success: the video has been watched by more than 7.7 million people around the world. The clip was greeted and encouraged by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, broadcast at a UN official meeting and received several Golden Lions at the International Festival of Creativity. Proportionally to this success, the CSA censorship had a worldwide impact, sparking indignation in newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post.

Unfortunately, on the basis of only two complaints, the CSA decided to send a letter to the channels broadcasting the video in France to ask them not to broadcast it. The CSA considered that the mere fact that the message was "likely to disturb the consciences of women who had made different personal life choices in accordance with the law" would justify censorship
.