By HRC Correspondent, 1 November 2011
The case of Verein gegen Tierfabriken v Switzerland, brought to the Grand Chamber in November 2011, has unanimously been declared inadmissible by the European Court. It has been ruled that the Swiss Post Office is not in breach of freedom of expression or association under Article 10 in its decision not to deliver the animal protection association’s magazine to letterboxes which stated “no circularsplease”. The reason given for refusal was that the magazine constitutes a form of political advertising.
VGT is an organisation dedicated to reducing and eventually ending the exploitation or abuse of animals. In 2009, VGT brought another case to the ECHR (32772/02) following the refusal by the Swiss authorities to air a television commercial they had produced which was critical of battery pig farming. The commercial was banned by broadcasters on the basis that political advertising is prohibited. This view was upheld by the Federal Court of Switzerland, but was overturned by the ECHR. It was deemed to be in breach of the protection of freedom of expression under Article 10.
Unfortunately for VGT, this time they have been impeded in their continuing efforts to participate in the ongoing debate on the protection of animals.