The publishers of AutoWeek magazine were visited by police in 2002, following an article on illegal street racing. The police arrested the editor, threatening to shut down the entire publishing network for several days and keep the editor in detention unless photographs and documents relating to these races were handed over. In March 2009, a panel chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, in a controversial 4-3 decision, ruled that the searches showed “a regrettable lack of moderation” but were not a violation of freedom of expression as protected under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Grand Chamber of the Court agreed to hear the case in September 2009.
The amicus brief submitted by ARTICLE 19 claims that the chamber decision is in serious conflict with previous decisions of the Court, including the groundbreaking 1995 case of Goodwin v. UK, which firmly established the rule of protection of sources in European law. The brief extensively reviews national developments both in Europe and internationally on protection of sources over the past 15 years, and calls on the Court to reaffirm this right and to require that every member state follows strict procedural rules before they attempt to obtain confidential information from journalists.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
• For more information please contact: David Banisar, Senior Legal Consultant, Banisar@article19.org or +44 20 7324 2500.
• To read the full text of the amicus brief, go to: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/letters/sanoma-uitgevers-b.v.-v-thenetherlands.pdf
• To read the statement signed by media organisations in support of the amicus brief, go to: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/letters/europe-weakeningprotection-of-sources.pdf
• ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.