Case Analysis – Politician sentenced for hate comment on his public account (Sanchez v France)


CEDH, Grande chambre, AFFAIRE SANCHEZ c. France, Requête no 45581/15, 15 mai 2023.

TMT analysis:

This landmark ruling recognised that a politician had exceeded his freedom of expression by failing to immediately remove illegal comments posted on his account.

At the same time, it upheld his criminal conviction. In 2011, the politician and mayoral candidate posted a message on Facebook targeting one of his political opponents and his wife. As his account was open to everyone, two people commented on the message, inciting hatred or violence against people of Muslim faith. A criminal complaint was filed against the applicant and the two people behind the comments.

For the first time, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on the joint liability of producers and authors, justifying this interference with freedom of expression as ‘necessary in a democratic society’ in the specific context of an election campaign.

Written by Anne-Marie Pecoraro, partner, UGGC Avocats.