Studio Monitori and Others v. Georgia: access to public documents must be ‘instrumental’ for the right to freedom of expression

By Dirk Voorhoof and Ronan Ó Fathaigh

In the case of Studio Monitori and Others v. Georgia the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in its judgment of 30 January 2020 has confirmed that the right to freedom of expression and information as guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) can only be invoked in order to obtain access to public documents when a set of conditions are fulfilled. It is one of the cases following the judgment of the Grand Chamber in Magyar Helsinki Bizottság v. Hungary to test the scope and limits of the right of access to information and the applicability of Article 10 ECHR. The most important consequence of the judgment in Studio Monitori and Others is that NGOs, journalists or other public watchdogs requesting access to public documents have to motivate and clarify in their request that access to the documents they are applying for is instrumental, and even necessary, for their journalistic reporting and that the requested documents contain information of public interest. Continue reading

Magyar Helsinki Bizottság v Hungary: a (limited) right of access to information under article 10 ECHR

Guest post by M. Schaap-Rubio Imbers, PhD Candidate international public law, Erasmus School of Law  

On the 8th of November 2016, the ECtHR’s Grand Chamber delivered its judgment in Magyar Helsinki Bizottság v Hungary. The applicant NGO (Magyar Helsinki Bizottság) complained that the refusal of police departments to disclose information on the appointment of public defenders upon their request represented a breach of its rights as set out in article 10 ECHR. The Court held by fifteen votes to two that there has indeed been a violation of article 10. This judgment is the latest ruling on access to public interest information, and as such a very welcome elaboration of the Court’s position on the right of access to public interest information under article 10 ECHR.

Considering that others have already provided a good overview of the background and what is at stake in this judgement (here) and provided a general discussion of the case at hand (here), in this contribution I will focus particularly on the criteria established by the Court for access to public interest information under article 10 ECHR.

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Occupational Health in the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights: Brincat v. Malta

This guest blog post was written by Elena Sychenko, Ph.D. student at the University of Catania, Law Faculty, Labour Law Department.

On 24 July, the European Court of Human Rights announced its judgment in Brincat and Others v. Malta (the Brincat case).[1] This case was the result of 21 applications of former workers of the public ship repair yard exposed to asbestos. The Government of Malta was held responsible for breaching its positive obligations to protect the rights to life and the right to respect for private life. A violation of the right to life was found where the death of the employee was the result of exposure to asbestos. Where employees had suffered from different diseases, the Court found a violation of the right to respect for private and family life.

Brincat is a landmark case for Occupational Health in all the countries of the Council of Europe. For the first time, the Court found violations of two rights deduced from articles 2 and 8 that are fundamental to this sphere: the right to access information concerning risks the employee is exposed to and the right to protection from dangerous industrial activities. Continue reading

ECtHR extends its case law on the right to information on health risks under Article 8

This guest post was written by Lieselot Verdonck. Lieselot is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Human Rights Centre, Faculty of Law of Ghent University. More information on the author can be found here.

Over the years, the ECtHR has gradually built its jurisprudence according to which Article 8 grants a right to access to information for individuals exposed to health risks caused by polluting industrial activities. The judgment in Vilnes & Others v. Norway has extended this settled case law in three ways. Firstly, the Court deepened the substance of this right to information by holding that in certain circumstances the State’s obligation to provide access to information encompasses a duty to actually provide such information (i.e. even if the individuals exposed to health risks have not been refused access to information). Secondly, the Court broadened the scope of application of this right to occupational health risks. Thirdly, the Court held that information essential to assess health risks has to be provided even if there is scientific uncertainty about the precise nature and extent of these risks.

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