The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that an administrative fine for a Turkish-speaking politician campaigning in Bulgaria’s 2013 election violated freedom of expression.
The European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, France, announced its decision to impose an administrative fine of €250 on politician Lütfi Mestan for speaking Turkish during the 2013 general election campaign in Bulgaria.
The Court noted that the electoral law of Bulgaria prohibits the use of a language other than Bulgarian as an official language in electoral campaigns.
In its decision, the European Court of Human Rights stressed the importance of pluralism, tolerance and protection of minorities in a democratic society and decided that the administrative punishment imposed on Mestan violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights on freedom of expression.
The court decided that Bulgaria would pay 3,200 euros in court costs and a total of 1,200 euros in 3 months in compensation to Mestan.
Mestan spoke Turkish during the 2013 general election campaign in Bulgaria.
Bulgarian officials alleged that Mestan violated the country’s election law.
Mestan, who was first handed an administrative fine of around €1,000, has been amended to €250 as a result of his appeal to the Kotel District Court.
Mestan applied to the European Court of Human Rights over this incident in 2015, alleging a violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights on freedom of expression and Article 14 on the prohibition of discrimination.
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