In the context of the proliferation of extremist hate speech in Europe in recent years, legislative provisions have been enacted that inevitably resulted in potentially substantial limitations on the right to freedom of speech. A number of individuals have been subjected to onerous administrative measures in relation to their speech – sometimes after a criminal conviction, sometimes in the absence of criminal law action. Thus, the question of proportionality has inevitably arisen – to what extent can a state legitimately and justifiably restrict the right to freedom of expression in the interests of national security? To put it differently, in respecting its broader social obligation to ensure and preserve security, how much should a state qualify the right to freedom of expression?
A comparative report was commissioned by the Dutch National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism to address these questions.