Judgment I. ÚS 3018/14 – The Scope of Parliamentary Immunity in Relation to Expressions on Facebook

15 July 2015

On 16 June 2015 the Constitutional Court dismissed the petition of Otto Chaloupka, the former Member of Parliament, who was charged with the incitement to hatred against a group of people or to restriction of their rights and freedoms. The applicant alleged that since he posted his remarks regarding Roma citizens on Facebook while attending the parliamentary session, his expressions were protected by the parliamentary immunity.

First, the Constitutional Court analysed the formal, substantive, territorial and functional scope of non-liability as guaranteed by the Czech Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. It concluded that the form of the expression or the medium conveying it is not decisive for the determination of the coverage by the non-liability principle. The protected expression has to contribute to the parliamentary debate, pass on information or voice opinions to other members of parliament or other persons authorised to attend the session of the parliament or its organs. The non-liability protects the parliament as the collective body, it is not a privilege of an individual, thus the Constitutional Court underlined that the objective of the expression as a part of the autonomous system of parliamentary discussion is fundamental.

As the applicant intended to present his views mainly to the public in general, outside the parliamentary debate, his expressions fell outside the scope of the non-liability as protected by the Constitution. The judgment will be translated and published in English shortly.