EIT:n suurelta jaostolta kaksi tuomiota Saksaa koskien
Euroopan ihmisoikeustuomioistuimen (EIT) suuri jaosto on tänään antanut kaksi tuomiota, jotka oli kohdistettu Saksaa vastaan. Kummassakin tapauksessa oli kyse sananvapauden ja yksityisyyden suojan rajanvedosta.Tapauksessa Springer v. Saksa oli kyse siitä, että Bild-lehden kustantaja Axel Springer AG:ta oli kielletty julkaisemasta uudelleen erästä artikkelia ja valokuvia, joissa oli käsitelty näyttelijä X:n pidätystä olutfestivaaleilla. EIT katsoi, että tapauksessa oli rikottu EIS 10 artiklaa.
Tapauksessa Von Hannover (no. 2) v. Saksa oli kyse prinsessa Caroline von Hannoverin valituksesta, jossa saksalaistuomioistuimet olivat kieltäytyneet kieltämästä tietyn prisessasta otetun kuvan julkaisemista. EIT katsoi, että tapauksessa ei ollut rikottu EIS 8 artiklaa.
Springer v. Saksa:
While the Court could broadly agree with the German courts’ assessment that Springer’s interest in publishing the articles was solely due precisely to the fact that it was a wellknown actor who had committed an offence – which would not have been reported on if committed by a person unknown to the public – it underlined that the actor had been arrested in public at the Munich beer festival. The actor’s expectation that his private life would be effectively protected had furthermore been reduced by the fact that he had previously revealed details about his private life in a number of interviews.
Nothing suggested that Springer had not undertaken a balancing exercise between its interest in publishing the information and the actor’s right to respect for his private life. Given that Springer had obtained confirmation of the information conveyed by the prosecuting authorities, it did not have sufficiently strong grounds for believing that it should preserve the actor’s anonymity. It could therefore not be said to have acted in bad faith. In that context, the Court also noted that all the information revealed by Springer on the day on which the first article appeared was confirmed by the prosecut or to other magazines and to television channels.
The Court noted, moreover, that the articles had not revealed details about the actor’s private life, but had mainly concerned the circumstances of his arrest and the outcome of the criminal proceedings against him. They contained no disparaging expression or unsubstantiated allegation, and the Government had not shown that the publication of the articles had resulted in serious consequences for the actor. While the sanctions imposed on Springer had been lenient, they were capable of having a chilling effect on the company. The Court concluded that the restrictions imposed on the company had not been reasonably proportionate to the legitimate aim of protecting the actor’s private life. There had accordingly been a violation of Article 10.
Von Hannover v. Saksa:
The Court observed that following its 2004 judgment in Caroline von Hannover v. Germany, the German Federal Court of Justice had made changes to its earlier case-law. In particular, it had stated that it was significant whether a report in the media contributed to a factual debate and whether its contents went beyond a mere desire to satisfy public curiosity. The Federal Court of Justice had noted that the greater the information value for the public the more the interest of a person in being protected against its publication had to yield, and vice versa, and that the reader’s interest in being entertained generally carried less weight than the interest in protecting the private sphere. The German Federal Constitutional Court had confirmed that approach.
The fact that the German Federal Court of Justice had assessed the information value of the photo in question – the only one against which it had not granted an injunction – in the light of the article that was published together with it could not be criticised under the Convention. The Court could accept that the photo, in the context of the article, did at least to some degree contribute to a debate of general interest. The German courts’ characterisation of Prince Rainier’s illness as an event of contemporary society could not be considered unreasonable. It was worth underlining that the German courts had granted the injunction prohibiting the publication of two other photos showing the applicants in similar circumstances, precisely on the grounds that they were being published for entertainment purposes alone.
Furthermore, irrespective of the question to what extent Caroline von Hannover assumed official functions on behalf of the Principality of Monaco, it could not be claimed that the applicants, who were undeniably very well known, were ordinary private individuals. They had to be regarded as public figures.
The German courts had concluded that the applicants had not provided any evidence that the photos had been taken in a climate of general harassment, as they had alleged, or that they had been taken secretly. In the circumstances of the case, the question as to how the pictures had been taken had required no more detailed examination by the courts, as the applicants had not put forward any relevant arguments in that regard.
In conclusion, the German courts had carefully balanced the right of the publishing companies to freedom of expression against the right of the applicants to respect for their private life. In doing so, they had explicitly taken into account the Court’s case-law, including its 2004 judgment in Caroline von Hannover v. Germany. There had accordingly been no violation of Article 8.
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