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高雄律師-楊岡儒律師【法學英文選讀(11)】言論自由(The Freedom of Speech)與刑法誹謗罪(Defamation)之衡平


 

2010.8.28    高雄律師-楊岡儒律師

 

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原標題:法學英文選讀(11)言論自由(The Freedom of Speech)與刑法誹謗罪(Defamation)之衡平(A Necessary Countermeasure to Prevent One's Infringement of Others' Freedoms and Rights

 

按人民之基本權利,如涉及權益保障衝突之面向,例如:「言論自由」及「(傳述)個人名譽、隱私之言詞」間之保障,即涉及憲法基本權及現行法制規範之涵攝內涵,「言論自由」雖屬現代法治國家所畀予之高度基本權,然法律尚非不得對其傳述或傳播等方式為合理限制,俾符合法治社會權益保障之衡平。

 

故由保護個人法益以觀,刑法第310條第1項及第2項誹謗罪之規範,本質上即涉及「言論自由」與「誹謗個人名譽」之衝突情形。要言之,尚不得僅以一己之臆測等不當言辭,即全然忽略個人名譽之保障,乃至恣意侵犯或詆毀他人名譽。故「憲法上言論自由之基本權」,仍具有限制與衡平之面向,是以如刑法第310條第3項之規定,首重於「發表人真實且善意之認知」以及「依客觀之證據資料得確信為真實」等內涵,因此,釋字第509號特別揭示:「行為人雖不能證明言論內容為真實,但依其所提證據資料,認為行為人有相當理由確信其為真實者,即不能以誹謗罪之刑責相繩。」故言論自由並非漫無限制,亦非僅以一己認知所言即得率斷屬其基本權保障之範圍,基於現代法治國家及社會制度之運作,應認為「言論自由仍應本於善意及信賴之審慎發言」,方屬允妥。

 

以下謹然引用大法官釋字第509號解釋之重要內容,並請大家參考。

 

至於商業言論及公眾人物評論等部份,由於涉及媒體報導之公益評準及衡平等概念範疇,則會再行以其他大法官解釋為說明之。

 

 

 

祝福大家安好與順心如意

 

兔寶寶律師  謹筆

 

2010.8.25.AM.4.06

 

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大法官會議解釋:大法官釋字509

 

解釋文:

 

言論自由為人民之基本權利,憲法第十一條有明文保障,國家應給予最大限度之維護,俾其實現自我、溝通意見、追求真理及監督各種政治或社會活動之功能得以發揮。惟為兼顧對個人名譽、隱私及公共利益之保護,法律尚非不得對言論自由依其傳播方式為合理之限制。刑法第三百十條第一項及第二項誹謗罪即係保護個人法益而設,為防止妨礙他人之自由權利所必要,符合憲法第二十三條規定之意旨。至刑法同條第三項前段以對誹謗之事,能證明其為真實者不罰,係針對言論內容與事實相符者之保障,並藉以限定刑罰權之範圍,非謂指摘或傳述誹謗事項之行為人,必須自行證明其言論內容確屬真實,始能免於刑責。惟行為人雖不能證明言論內容為真實,但依其所提證據資料,認為行為人有相當理由確信其為真實者,即不能以誹謗罪之刑責相繩,亦不得以此項規定而免除檢察官或自訴人於訴訟程序中,依法應負行為人故意毀損他人名譽之舉證責任,或法院發現其為真實之義務。就此而言,刑法第三百十條第三項與憲法保障言論自由之旨趣並無牴觸

 

 

 

J. Y. Interpretation No.509

 

Holding

 

The freedom of speech, a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 11 of the Constitution, requires that the government grant a maximum amount of protection for free speech. Only under the purview of the constitutional protection can we fully realize and express ourselves, pursue the truth,and take part in all manners of political and social activities. However, in light of protecting other fundamental rights such as personal reputation and privacy and public interests as well, the freedom of speech is not an absolute right but subject to reasonable statutory restraints imposed upon the communication media. Article 310, Paragraphs 1 and 2, of the Criminal Code criminalizes defamation in order to protect individual legal interests, a necessary countermeasure to prevent one's infringement of others' freedoms and rights. Such restraints do not violate Article 23 of the Constitution. Article 310, Paragraph 3, of the Criminal Code provides truth as an affirmative defense against a conviction of criminal defamation. This provided defense purports to protect truthful speeches and to demarcate the reach of the government's penal power. However, it is not a corollary that for a successful assertion of the defense, an accused disseminator of a defamatory statement would have to carry the burden of proving its truthfulness. To the extent that the accused fails to demonstrate that the defamatory statement is true, as long as the accused has reasonable grounds to believe that the statement was true when disseminated and has proffered evidence to support the belief, the accused must be found not guilty of criminal defamation. This provision does nothing to exempt a public or private prosecutor from carrying his/her burden of proof to show that the accused has the requisite mens rea to damage another person's reputation, an evidential burden mandated under the criminal procedures, nor does it exempt the court from its obligation of discovering the truth. Accordingly, Article 310, Paragraph 3, of the Criminal Code does not violate the freedom of speech as it is protected under the Constitution.

 

 

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