Insulting a politician right after her death: Does the ECHR protect the reputation of the deceased?

By Valeska David

At the end of 2014, when deciding on the admissibility of a case brought by Stalin’s grandson, who sued a newspaper and the author of an article for defamation of his grandfather, the ECtHR stated that the heir of a deceased person could not claim a violation of the latter’s article 8’s rights since they are non-transferable.[1] Less than two years later, however, the recent judgment in Genner v. Austria (Application no. 55495/08) seems to cast a shadow of doubt on that principle. Furthermore, this judgment brings about interesting questions on what can and cannot be said about a public figure who has just passed away. Before turning to these questions, let’s first examine the facts of the case.

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Cengiz and Others v. Turkey: a tentative victory for freedom of expression online

By Marina van Riel, Resident Fellow, Open Society Justice Initiative, New York (*)

On 1 December 2015, the European Court of Human Rights released a judgment in the case of Cengiz and Others v. Turkey. The main question put before the Court was whether the blocking of the popular video-sharing website YouTube constituted a violation of users’ Convention rights. Having first established the victim status of the applicants, the Court went on to find a violation of their right to receive and impart information under Article 10 ECHR.

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The Problem with Insularity: On the Court’s View of Anti-Abortion Campaigning in Annen v. Germany

By Corina Heri

On 26 November 2015, the ECtHR published the Fifth Section’s judgment in Annen v. Germany. The majority in that case found a violation of the applicant’s freedom of expression under Article 10 ECHR by an injunction that prohibited him from distributing anti-abortion leaflets outside a day clinic and from publishing the names and address of two doctors on his website. The following will argue that the female perspective was entirely missing from the majority’s judgment, in three main regards.

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Grand Chamber challenges male-oriented view on keeping silence over mistress and lovechild in pivotal privacy case

By Dirk Voorhoof *

gsdfgdfgThe Grand Chamber’s judgment delivered on 10 November 2015 in Couderc and Hachette Filipacchi Associés v. France elaborates on the appropriate standard for privacy and the media under European human rights law. In essence, the Court discussed the public-interest value of a disputed article published in the magazine Paris Match, revealing aspects of the private life of a public person exercising an important political function. This blog, written on 11 November, Women’s Day in Belgium, focusses in particular on women’s right to tell the story of a relationship as a matter of personal identity.

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Journalist must comply with police order to disperse while covering demonstration

By Dirk Voorhoof *

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Recently, the Council of Europe Task Force for Freedom of Expression and Media published a book under the title “Journalism at risk. Threats, challenges and perspectives”. Since a Grand Chamber judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 20 October 2015, a new threat for journalistic freedom has obviously emerged, that is the risk for journalists to be detained, prosecuted and convicted for disobeying a police order while covering a public demonstration. At least, that is the consequence of the judgment in the case of Pentikäinen v. Finland.

The Grand Chamber concludes that the interference with a press photographer’s right to freedom of expression and newsgathering because of disobeying a police order to leave the scene of a demonstration that had turned into a riot, can be said to have been “necessary in a democratic society” within the meaning of Article 10 of the Convention. At an earlier stage in this procedure the Chamber of the fourth section, with five votes to two, had come to the same conclusion (see our blogs in March 2014, here and here).

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Criminal conviction for denying the Armenian genocide in breach with freedom of expression, Grand Chamber confirms

By Dirk Voorhoof *
 

fsdgOn 17 December 2013 the European Court of Human Rights had ruled by five votes to two that Switzerland had violated the right to freedom of expression by convicting Doğu Perinçek, chairman of the Turkish Workers’ Party, for publicly denying the existence of the genocide against the Armenian people (see our blogs on Strasbourg Observers and ECHR-Blog, 7 and 8 January 2014). The Grand Chamber has now, on 15 October 2015, in a 128 page judgment, confirmed, by ten votes to seven, the finding of a violation of Article 10 ECHR.

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ECtHR accepts strict application of data protection law and narrow interpretation of journalistic activity in Finland

By Dirk Voorhoof, Ghent University

After proceedings at the national level during eight years, and after a preliminary ruling by the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg on 16 December 2008 (Case C-73/07), the European Court of Human Rights (Fourth section) in Strasbourg has delivered a controversial judgment in the domain of protection of personal data and data journalism. In Satakunnan Markkinapörssi Oy and Satamedia Oy v. Finland, the Court comes to the conclusion that a prohibition issued by the Finnish Data Protection Board that prohibited two media companies (further: Satamedia) from publishing personal data in the manner and to the extent they had published these data before, is to be considered as a legal, legitimate and necessary interference with the applicants’ right to freedom of expression and information.

The European Court agrees with the Finnish authorities that the applicants could not rely on the exception of journalistic activities within the law of protection of personal data. In finding no violation of the right to freedom of expression and information, the Court not only accepts a restrictive interpretation of the notion of journalistic activity, it also reduces drastically the impact of the right to information of public interest.

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