The Right to Reputation under the European Convention on Human Rights

Does a right to reputation exist under the European Convention on Human Rights? And when does such a right exist? Keeping Pfeifer v. Austria (15 Nov. 2007) in mind, those may appear to be redundant questions. But they are not.

I will discuss these questions in light of the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Polanco Torres and Movilla Polanco v. Spain, a typical defamation case. In broad terms the facts of the case are as follows. A newspaper published an article alleging involvement of Mrs. Polanco Torres with a company that allegedly engaged in unlawful transactions. Her husband, a judge, was also mentioned by name in the newspaper article. Both Mrs. Polanco Torres and her husband instituted proceedings for the protection of their honour, but lost. Mrs. Polanco Torres and her daughter, acting on behalf of her in the meantime deceased father, instituted proceedings in Strasbourg under article 8 ECHR, claiming violation of their right to reputation.

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