The Right to Protection Against Attacks on Reputation
Module 5: Defamation
The right to protection against attacks on reputation is firmly established in international law. Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”(1) This is echoed in identical words in article 17 of the ICCPR.
Therefore, as indicated above, a balance often needs to be found between protecting individuals from false and harmful attacks on their reputation on the one hand and freedom of expression and the public’s right to information on the other.