by Dirk VOORHOOF

echr

Introduction[1]*

Until a few decades ago, the limits and restrictions of freedom of expression were determined by parliaments, governments or other national authorities, and ultimately scrutinized by their own domestic judicial authorities without any further external control. This “paradigm” has significantly changed in Europe, due to the achievement of the European Convention on Human Rights and the enforcement machinery in which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) plays a crucial role.[2] In an impressive amount of judgments the ECtHR has found that the national level of protection of the right to freedom of expression, media freedom and rights of journalists does not meet the requirements of Article 10 ECHR. The Court’s case law has emphasised “that freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and one of the basic conditions for its progress and for each individual’s self-fulfilment,” while restrictions and sanctions need a relevant, pertinent and sufficient motivation. An interference with free speech and media freedom can only be justified if there is a pressing social need and insofar as the interference is proportionate to the aim pursued.

In some recent case law, the ECtHR has further strengthened, upgraded and broadened the right to freedom of expression and information, by also protecting newsgathering practices by journalists and whistleblowing by civil servants or employees, and especially by recognising a right of access to documents held by public authorities.This contribution focuses on this latter aspect, after briefly exploring some of the characteristics and recent developments of the Strasbourg’s Court case law on strengthening and protecting public debate, investigative journalism, the role of civil society and the emerging recognition of the importance to protect whistleblowers as a form of participation to public debate and transparency.

 

1) Open debate, journalists, NGOs and transparency

At numerous occasions the European Court has emphasized the importance of an open public debate and the role of investigative journalism in democratic societies. Particular attention is paid to the public interest involved in the disclosure of information, contributing to debate on matters of public interest. The Court has emphasized that:

“In a democratic system the acts or omissions of government must be subject to the close scrutiny not only of the legislative and judicial authorities but also of the media and public opinion. The interest which the public may have in particular information can sometimes be so strong as to override even a legally imposed duty of confidence.”[3]

In such a context a journalist, a civil servant, an activist or a staff member of an NGO should not be prosecuted or sanctioned because of breach of confidentiality or the use of illegally obtained documents.[4] The Court has accepted that the interest in protecting the publication of information originating from a source which obtained and retransmitted the information unlawfully may in certain circumstances outweigh those of an individual or an entity, private or public, in maintaining the confidentiality of the information. A newspaper that has published illegally gathered emails between two politicians, directly related to a public discussion on a matter of serious public concern, can be shielded by Article 10 of the Convention against claims based on the right of privacy as protected under Article 8 of the Convention.[5]

The Court on several occasions has confirmed that press freedom assumes even greater importance in circumstances in which state activities and decisions escape democratic or judicial scrutiny on account of their confidential or secret nature. The conviction of a journalist for disclosing information considered to be confidential or secret may discourage those working in the media from informing the public on matters of public interest. As a result the press may no longer be able to play its vital role as “public watchdog” and the ability of the press to provide accurate and reliable information may be adversely affected.[6] In cases in which journalists reported about confidential information in a sensationalist way[7] or in which the revealed documents did not concretely or effectively contribute to public debate or only concerned information about the private life of the persons concerned,[8] the Court accepted (proportionate) interferences in their freedom of expression.

Strengthened Article 10 protections for watchdog NGOs

The European Court has also made clear that in a democratic society, in addition to the press, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), campaign groups or organizations, with a message outside the mainstream must be able to carry on their activities effectively and be able to rely on a high level of freedom of expression, as there is “a strong public interest in enabling such groups and individuals outside the mainstream to contribute to the public debate by disseminating information and ideas on matters of general public interest such as health and the environment.”[9] In a democratic society public authorities are to be exposed to permanent scrutiny by citizens and everyone has to be able to draw the public’s attention to situations that they consider unlawful.[10] The Court has also argued that freedom of expression is of major importance for persons belonging to minority groups.[11]

An important step towards promoting and securing transparency has been taken in the Grand Chamber judgment in Guja v. Moldova, in which the Court recognized the need of protection of whistleblowers by Article 10 of the Convention. The Court noted:

“that a civil servant, in the course of his work, may become aware of in-house information, including secret information, whose divulgation or publication corresponds to a strong public interest. The Court thus considers that the signaling by a civil servant or an employee in the public sector of illegal conduct or wrongdoing in the workplace should, in certain circumstances, enjoy protection. This may be called for where the employee or civil servant concerned is the only person, or part of a small category of persons, aware of what is happening at work and is thus best placed to act in the public interest by alerting the employer or the public at large.”

Although disclosure should be made in the first place to the person’s superior or other competent authority or body, the Court accepted that when such a practice is clearly impractical, the information could, as a last resort, be disclosed to the public. The Court held that the dismissal of a civil servant for leaking two confidential letters from the public prosecutor’s office to the press was in breach of Article 10 of the Convention, also referring to the serious chilling effect of the applicant’s dismissal for other civil servants or employees, discouraging them from reporting any misconduct.[12]

 

In Bucur and Toma v. Romania the Court considered that the general interest in the disclosure of information revealing illegal activities within the Romanian Intelligence Services (RIS) was so important in a democratic society that it prevailed over the interest in maintaining public confidence in that institution. The Court observed that the information about the illegal telecommunication surveillance of journalists, politicians and business men that had been disclosed to the press affected the democratic foundations of the State. Hence it concerned very important issues for the political debate in a democratic society, in which public opinion had a legitimate interest. The fact that the data and information at issue were classified as ‘ultra-secret’ was not a sufficient reason in this case to interfere with the whistleblower’s right to divulge the information. The conviction of Bucur for the disclosure of information to the media about the illegal activities of RIS was considered as a violation of Article 10 ECHR. In its judgment the Court also relied on Resolution 1729(2010) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on protecting whistleblowers.[13]

Especially in cases where information is published on alleged corruption, fraud or illegal activities in which politicians, civil servants or public institutions are involved, journalists, publishers, media and NGOs can count on the highest standards of protection of freedom of expression. The Court has emphasized that “in a democratic state governed by the rule of law the use of improper methods by public authority is precisely the kind of issue about which the public has the right to be informed.”[14] The Court expressed the opinion that “the press is one of the means by which politicians and public opinion can verify that public money is spent according to the principles of accounting and not used to enrich certain individuals”.[15]

Defamation laws and proceedings cannot be justified if their purpose or effect is to prevent legitimate criticism of public officials or the exposure of official wrongdoing or corruption. A right to sue in defamation for the reputation of officials could easily be abused and might prevent free and open debate on matters of public interest or scrutiny of the spending of public money.[16]

 

Protections for whistleblowers

This approach is also clearly reflected in the Court’s judgment of 21 October 2014 in the case of Matúz v. Hungary. The case concerns the dismissal of a journalist working for the state television company Magyar Televízió Zrt., after having revealed several censoring interventions by one of his superiors. At the material time Matúz was also the chairman of the Trade Union of Public Service Broadcasters, active within the television company. At several occasions Matúz had openly invited the board of the television company to end censorship in news and TV-programmes. Subsequently Matúz published a book containing documentary evidence of censorship exercised in the State television company, which led to his dismissal with immediate effect, for having breached the confidentiality clause contained in his labour contract. Matúz challenged his dismissal in court, but he remained unsuccessful in his legal actions in Hungary. Finally he lodged a complaint in Strasbourg, arguing a violation of his rights under Article 10 of the Convention. Matúz submitted that as a journalist and chairman of the trade union at the public television broadcaster he had had the right and obligation to inform the public about alleged censorship at the national television company. The European Court recognized that the issue of censorship within a public broadcaster concerns an issue of major interest for society. The Court is also satisfied that the publication of the book took place only after Matúz had felt prevented from remedying the perceived interference with his journalistic work within the television company itself – that is, for want of any effective alternative channel. The domestic courts found that the mere fact that the applicant had published the book was sufficient to conclude that he had acted to his employer’s detriment, limiting their analysis to the finding that Matúz had breached his contractual obligations. As a result, the Hungarian courts did not examine whether and how the subject matter of the book at issue could have affected the permissible scope of restriction on his freedom of expression. Being mindful of the importance of the right to freedom of expression on matters of general interest, of Matúz’s professional obligations and responsibilities as a journalist on the one hand, and of the duties and responsibilities of employees towards their employers on the other, and having weighed the different interests involved in the case, the Court concludes that the interference with the applicant’s right to freedom of expression was not “necessary in a democratic society.” The Court therefore considered the termination of  the journalist’s employment with immediate effect as a violation of Article 10 of the Convention,[17] once more recognizing the importance of whistleblowing in a democratic society.

That is also the message of the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation CM/Rec(2014)7 on the protection of whistleblowers. Recommendation CM/Rec(2014)7 (30 April 2014) recognises “that individuals who report or disclose information on threats or harm to the public interest (“whistle-blowers”) can contribute to strengthening transparency and democratic accountability” and it refers explicitly to the right of freedom of expression and information guaranteed by Article 10 ECHR. Therefore it is recommended that member states should have in place “a normative, institutional and judicial framework to protect individuals who, in the context of their work-based relationship, report or disclose information on threats or harm to the public interest.”

In order to fulfil this mission, the national framework in the member states should foster an environment that encourages reporting or disclosure in an open manner and individuals should feel safe to freely raise public interest concerns. It is recommended that “clear channels should be put in place for public interest reporting and disclosures and recourse to them should be facilitated through appropriate measures.”  The channels for reporting and disclosures comprise:

  • “reports within an organisation or enterprise (including to persons designated to receive reports in confidence);”
  • “reports to relevant public regulatory bodies, law enforcement agencies and supervisory bodies;”
  • “disclosures to the public, for example to a journalist or a member of parliament.”

It is obvious that the European Court’s case law has contributed to raising awareness about the lack of protection of whistle-blowers in many states in Europe. Recommendation CM/Rec(2014)7 of 30 April 2014 to the member states requesting to take action for stimulating, facilitating and protecting whistle-blowing is aiming to implement at the national level a higher threshold of protection of public interest whistle-blowing, in line with the European Court’s case law. [18]

 

2) A right of access to information

An important development is the Court’s recent shift toward approaching access to public documents from the perspective of Article 10 of the Convention. For a long time, the Court refused to apply Article 10 in cases of refusals of access to public documents.[19] However, in a 2007 judgment the Court expressed its opinion that “particularly strong reasons must be provided for any measure affecting this role of the press and limiting access to information which the public has the right to receive,”[20]implicitly recognizing at least a right of access to information. In the spring of 2009 the Court delivered two important judgments in which it recognized the right of access to official documents. The Court made clear that when public bodies hold information that is needed for public debate, the refusal to provide documents in this matter to those who are requesting access is a violation of the right to freedom of expression and information as guaranteed under Article 10 of the Convention.

In TASZ v. Hungary the Court’s judgment mentioned the “censorial power of an information monopoly” when public bodies refuse to release information needed by the media or civil society organizations to perform their “watchdog” function. It also considered that the State had an obligation not to impede the flow of information sought by a journalist or an interested citizen. The Court referred to its consistent case law in which it has recognized that the public has a right to receive information of general interest and that the most careful scrutiny on the part of the Court is called for when the measures taken by the national authority are capable of discouraging the participation of the press, one of society’s “watchdogs,” in the public debate on matters of legitimate public concern, even when those measures merely make access to information more cumbersome. The Court emphasized once more that the function of the press, including the creation of forums for public debate, is not limited to the media or professional journalists. Indeed, in the present case, the preparation of the forum of public debate was conducted by a nongovernmental organization. The Court recognized civil society’s important contribution to the discussion of public affairs and qualified the applicant association, which is involved in human rights litigation, as a social “watchdog”. In these circumstances the applicant’s activities warranted Convention protection similar to that afforded to the press. Furthermore, given the applicant’s intention to impart the requested information to the public, thereby contributing to the public debate concerning legislation on drug-related offences, its right to impart information was clearly impaired.[21] In its case law regarding access to public documents, the Court has also emphasized that the law cannot allow arbitrary restrictions on the right to freedom of expression which may become a form of indirect censorship should the authorities create obstacles to the gathering of information. Gathering information is indeed an essential preparatory step in journalism and is an inherent, protected part of press freedom [22]

In Kenedi v. Hungary the European Court held unanimously that there had been a violation of the Convention, on account of the excessively long proceedings—more than 10 years—with which Mr. Kenedi sought to gain and enforce his access to documents concerning the Hungarian secret services. The Court also reiterated that “access to original documentary sources for legitimate historical research was an essential element of the exercise of the applicant’s right to freedom of expression.” The Court noted that Mr. Kenedi had obtained a court judgment granting him access to the documents in question, following which the domestic courts had repeatedly found in his favor in the ensuing enforcement proceedings. The administrative authorities had persistently resisted their obligation to comply with the domestic judgment, thus hindering Mr. Kenedi’s access to documents he needed to write his study. The Court concluded that the authorities had acted arbitrarily and in defiance of domestic law and it held, therefore, that the authorities had misused their powers by delaying Mr. Kenedi’s exercise of his right to freedom of expression, in violation of Article 10.[23]

Recently, in Youth Initiative for Human Rights v. Serbia, the European Court has reiterated that “the gathering of information is an essential preparatory step in journalism and is an inherent, protected part of press freedom” and that “obstacles created in order to hinder access to information which is of public interest may discourage those working in the media or related fields from pursuing such matters. As a result, they may no longer be able to play their vital role as “public watchdogs,” and their ability to provide accurate and reliable information may be adversely affected.”[24] Referring to TASZ v. Hungary, the European Court stated explicitly “that the notion of ‘freedom to receive information’ embraces a right of access to information.” The Court is of the opinion that as the applicant NGO, Youth Initiative for Human Rights, was obviously involved in the legitimate gathering of information of public interest with the intention of imparting that information to the public and thereby contributing to the public debate, there has been an interference with its right to freedom of expression. The Court found that the restrictions imposed by the Serbian intelligence agency, resulting in a refusal to give access to public documents, did not meet the criterion as being prescribed by law, and therefore violated Article 10 of the Convention.

In another recent judgment on the right of access to public documents (ÖVESSG v. Austria) the Strasbourg Court has further clarified and expanded the scope of application of Article 10 of the Convention. The applicant in this case was an NGO, the Austrian Association for the Preservation, Strengthening and Creation of an Economically Sound Agricultural and Forestry Land Ownership (ÖVESSG). The Court considers that the refusal to give ÖVESSG access to the requested documents amounted to an interference with its rights under Article 10, as the association was involved in the legitimate gathering of information of public interest with the aim of contributing to public debate. The unconditional refusal by the Austrian regional authorities to give access to a series of documents thus made it impossible for ÖVESSG to carry out its research and to participate in a meaningful manner in the legislative process concerning amendments of real property transaction law in the region. The European Court also observed that in contrast with similar authorities in other regions in Austria, the Tyrol regional authority had chosen not to publish its decisions and thus, by its own choice, held an information monopoly. The refusal to give access to the requested documents amounted to a violation of Article 10 of the Convention.[25]

Most recently, in the case of Ioan Romeo Roşiianu, a presenter of a regional television programme, the Court (Roşiianu v. Romania) came to the conclusion that the Romanian authorities violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights by refusing access to the documents of a public nature Roşiianu had requested for at Baia Mare, a city in the north of Romania. The Court’s judgment clarifies that efficient enforcement mechanisms are necessary in order to make the right of access to public documents under Article 10 practical and effective. The Court noted that Roşiianu was involved in the legitimate gathering of information on a matter of public importance, namely the activities of the Baia Mare municipal administration. It reiterated that in view of the interest protected by Article 10, the law cannot allow arbitrary restrictions which may become a form of indirect censorship should the authorities create obstacles to the gathering of information. Gathering information is indeed an essential preparatory step in journalism and is an inherent, protected part of press freedom. Given that the journalist’s intention had been to communicate the information in question to the public and thereby to contribute to the public debate on good public governance, his right to impart information had clearly been impaired. The Court found that there had not been adequate execution of the judicial decisions in question, ordering that the journalist would have access to the documents he requested. It also observed that the complexity of the requested information and the considerable work in order to select or compile the requested documents had been referred to solely to explain the impossibility of providing that information rapidly, but could not be a sufficient or pertinent argument to refuse access to the requested documents. The Court found a violation of Article 10 of the Convention and held that Romania was to pay the applicant journalist EUR 4,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 4,748 in respect of costs and expenses.[26]

The Court’s recognition of the applicability of the (effective) right to freedom of expression and information in matters of access to official documents is undoubtedly an important new development which further expands the scope of application of Article 10 of the Convention.[27]

 

Perspectives

Surveying the European Court’s jurisprudence related to Article 10 of the Convention shows that the Court is securing high standards of freedom of expression and protection of media and journalists. The Grand Chamber judgments of February 2012 in Axel Springer AG v. Germany and in Von Hannover (n° 2) v. Germany,[28] the recent findings of violations of Article 10 in several cases of protection of journalistic sources[29] and in a series of judgments in relation to critical reporting by media and investigative journalism[30] clearly illustrate the awareness of the European Court regarding the importance of freedom of expression and information in a democratic society. The development that the ECtHR since a few years has also included the right of access to public or official documents within the protection mechanism of Article 10 of the Convention has revealed that also in this domain still a lot can be improved, as the cases the ECtHR dealt with showed a lack of operationalization, organization and enforcement of the right of access to information at the domestic level: national authorities need clearly an extra push to implement this fundamental right into their administrative and legal practices.

The challenge for the future is to bring more European Convention member states in line with the European Court’s case law and to inspire, influence or persuade their authorities to protect the freedom of newsgathering, and to secure the rights of citizens, journalists and NGOs to access to information and transparency on matters of interest for society. Protecting and effectively guaranteeing these rights, is one more crucial step toward developing the quality of democracy.

 

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[1]* This paper elaborates on and updates a specific part of a working paper published by the European University Institute, Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF), in February 2014: D. Voorhoof, “The right to freedom of expression and information under the European Human Rights system: towards a more transparent democratic society”, EUI Working Paper (Florence: EUI RSCAS 2014/12) 22 p., http://cadmus.eui.eu/bitstream/handle/1814/29871/RSCAS_2014_12.pdf?sequence=1).

[2] See also D.J. Harris, M. O’Boyle, E. P. Bates and C.M. Buckley, Law of the European Convention on Human Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

[3] ECtHR Grand Chamber 12 February 2008, Case No. 14277/04, Guja v. Moldova and ECtHR 8 January 2013, Case No. 40238/02, Bucur and Toma v. Romania.

[4] ECtHR Grand Chamber 21 January 1999, Case No. 29183/95, Fressoz and Roire v. France; ECtHR 25 April 2006, Case No. 77551/01, Dammann v. Switzerland; ECtHR 7 June 2007, Case No. 1914/02, Dupuis and Others v. France; ECtHR 26 July 2007, Case No. 64209/01, Peev v. Bulgaria and ECtHR Grand Chamber 12 February 2008, Case No. 14277/04, Guja v. Moldova. See also ECtHR 19 December 2006, Case No. 62202/00, Radio Twist v. Slovakia and ECtHR 28 June 2011, Case No. 28439/08, Pinto Coelho v. Portugal.

[5] ECtHR (Decision) 16 June 2009, Case No. 38079/06, Jonina Benediktsdóttir v. Iceland. See also ECtHR Grand Chamber 21 January 1999, Case No. 29183/95, Fressoz and Roire v. France and ECtHR 19 December 2006, Case No. 62202/00, Radio Twist v. Slovakia.

[6] ECtHR Grand Chamber 10 December 2007, Case No. 69698/01, Stoll v. Switzerland. See also ECtHR Grand Chamber 27 March 1996, Case No. 17488/90, Goodwin v. UK and ECtHR Grand Chamber 21 January 1999, Case No. 29183/95, Fressoz and Roire v. France. For a recent application, see ECtHR 21 October 2014, Case No. 54125/10, Erla Hlynsdottir v. Iceland (no. 2).

[7] ECtHR Grand Chamber 10 December 2007, Case No. 69698/01, Stoll v. Switzerland.

[8] ECtHR 9 November 2006, Case No. 64772/01, Leempoel and S.A. Ciné Revue v. Belgium and ECtHR 3 February 2009, Case No. 30699/02, Marin v. Romania. See also ECtHR 14 March 2002, Case No. 46833/99, De Diego Nafria v. Spain and ECtHR Grand Chamber 17 December 2004, Case No. 33348/96, Cumpǎnǎ and Mazǎre v. Romania. See also ECtHR 14 January 2014, Case No. 73579/10, Ruusunen v. Finland and ECtHR 14 January 2014, Case No. 69939/10, Ojala and Etukeno Oy v. Finland.

[9] ECtHR 23 September 1998, Case No. 24838/94, Steel and Others v. UK. See also ECtHR 25 August 1998, Case No. 25181/94, Hertel v. Switzerland; ECtHR 28 June 2001, Case No. 24699/94, VGT Verein gegen Tierfabriken v. Switzerland; ECtHR 4 October 2007, Case No. 32772/02, VGT Verein gegen Tierfabriken (n° 2) v. Switzerland; ECtHR 27 May 2004, Case No. 57829/00, Vides Aizsardzības Klubs v. Latvia and ECtHR 7 November 2006, Case No. 12697/03, Mamère v. France. See also ECtHR 29 October 1992, Case No. 14234/88 and 14235/88, Open Door and Dublin Well Women v. Ireland; ECtHR Grand Chamber 25 November 1999, Case No. 25594/94, Hashman and Harrup v. UK; ECtHR 20 September 2007, Case No. 57103/00, Çetin and Şakar v. Turkey; ECtHR 3 February 2009, Case No. 31276/05, Women on Waves v. Portugal; ECtHR 14 September 2010, Case Nos. 6991/08 and 15084/08, Hyde Park and Others (n° 5-6) v. Moldova; ECtHR 1 December 2011, Case Nos. 8080/08 and 8577/08, Schwabe and M.G. v. Germany; ECtHR 12 June 2012, Case Nos. 26005/08 and 26160/08, Tatár and Fáber v. Hungary; ECtHR 26 November 2013, Case No. 3753/05, Kudrevičius and others v. Lithuania (referred to Grand Chamber) and ECtHR 15 May 2014, Case No. 19554/05, Taranenko v. Russia.

[10] ECtHR 27 May 2004, Case No. 57829/00, Vides Aizsardzības Klubs v. Latvia. See also ECtHR 12 June 2012, Case. Nos. 26005/08 and 26160/08, Tatár and Fáber v. Hungary.

[11] ECtHR 17 February 2004, Case No. 44158/98, Gorzelik v. Poland.

[12] ECtHR Grand Chamber 12 February 2008, Case No. 14277/04, Guja v. Moldova. See also ECtHR 5 October 2006, Case No. 14881/03, Zakharov v. Russia; ECtHR 26 July 2007, Case No. 64209/01, Peev v. Bulgaria; ECtHR 13 November 2008, Case Nos. 64119/00; 76292/01, Kayasu v. Turkey; ECtHR 13 January 2009, Case No. 39656/03, Ayhan Erdoğan v. Turkey; ECtHR 19 February 2009, Case No. 4063/04, Marchenko v. Ukraine; ECtHR 26 February 2009, Case No. 29492/05, Kudeshkina v. Russia; ECtHR 16 July 2009, Case No. 20436/02, Wojtas-Kaleta v. Poland; ECtHR 31 Marcht 2011, Case No. 6428/07, Siryk v. Ukraine; ECtHR 21 July 2011, Case No. 28274/08, Heinisch v. Germany; ECtHR 18 October 2011, Case No. 10247/09, Sosinowska v. Poland and ECtHR 8 January 2013, Case No. 40238/02, Bucur and Toma v. Romania.

[13] ECtHR 8 January 2013, Case No. 40238/02, Bucur and Toma v. Romania.  Notice that in some other cases the Court showed more respect for secret, classified military information: ECtHR 22 October 2009, Case No. 69519/01, Pasko v. Russia. In this case the ECtHR failed to apply the Guja-criteria, while the information at issue concerned serious environmental issues, related to nuclear pollution (see supra).

[14] ECtHR 22 November 2007, Case No. 64752/01, Voskuil v. The Netherlands.

[15] ECtHR 14 November 2008, Case No. 9605/03, Krone Verlag GmbH & Co (n° 5) v. Austria.

[16] ECtHR 9 June 2009, Case No. 17095/03, Cihan Özturk v. Turkey. See also ECtHR 10 July 2014, Case No. 48311/10, Axel Springer AG (n° 2) v. Germany.

[17] ECtHR 21 October 2014, Case No. 73571/10, Matúz v. Hungary.

[18] Committee of Ministers, Recommendation CM/Rec(2014)7 on the protection of whistle-blowers, 30 April 2014, https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=2188855&Site=CM

[19] The Court got on a new track in ECtHR (Decision) 10 July 2006, Case No. 19101/03, Sdruženi Jihočeské Matky v. Czech Republic. See also W. Hins and D. Voorhoof, “Access to State-Held Information as a Fundamental Right under the European Convention on Human Rights,” European Constitutional Law Review 3 (2007): 114–26.

[20] ECtHR 27 November 2007, Case No. 42864/05, Timpul Info-Magazin and Anghel v. Moldova.

[21] ECtHR 14 April 2009, Case No. 37374/05, Társaság A Szabadságjogokért v. Hungary and ECtHR 26 May 2009, Case No. 31475/05, Kenedi v. Hungary.

[22] ECtHR 14 April 2009, Case No. 37374/05, Társaság A Szabadságjogokért v. Hungary. See also ECtHR 24 June 2014, Case No. 27329/06, Roşiianu v. Romania.

[23] ECtHR 26 May 2009, Case No. 31475/05, Kenedi v. Hungary. The Court came to the conclusion that in this case Article 13 (effective remedy) had also been violated since the Hungarian system did not provide for an effective way of remedying the violation of the freedom of expression in this situation. The Court found that the procedure available in Hungary at the time and designed to remedy the violation of Kenedi’s Article 10 rights had been proven ineffective. There had, therefore, been a violation of Article 13 read in conjunction with Article 10 of the Convention.

[24] ECtHR 25 June 2013, Case No. 48135/06, Youth Initiative for Human Rights v. Serbia.

[25] ECtHR 28 November 2013, Case. No. 39534/07, Österreichische Vereinigung zur Erhaltung, Stärkung und Schaffung eines wirtschaftlich gesunden land- und forstwirtschaftlichen Grundbesitzes v. Austria.

[26] ECtHR 24 June 2014, Case No. 27329/06, Roşiianu v. Romania.

[27] See also P. Tiilikka, “Access to Information as a Human Right in the Case Law of the European Court of Human Rights” Journal of Media Law 5 (2013): 79-103 and the European Convention on Access to Official Documents, 18 June 2009, CETS nr. 205, www.conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/QueVoulezVous.asp?NT=205&CM=8&DF=24/09/2012&CL=ENG.

[28] ECtHR Grand Chamber 7 February 2012, Case No. 39954/08, Axel Springer AG v. Germany and ECtHR 7 February 2012, Case Nos. 40660/08 and 60641/08, Von Hannover (n° 2) v. Germany.

[29] ECtHR 15 December 2009, Case No. 821/03, Financial Times Ltd. and Others v. UK; ECtHR Grand Chamber 14 September 2010, Case No. 38224/03, Sanoma Uitgevers BV v. The Netherlands; ECtHR 12 April 2012, Case No. 30002/08, Martin and Others v. France; ECtHR 28 June 2012, Case Nos. 15054/07 and 15066/07, Ressiot and Others v. France; ECtHR 22 November 2012, Case No. 39315/06, Telegraaf Media Nederland Landelijke Media N.V. and Others v. The Netherlands; ECtHR 18 April 2013, Case No. 26419/10, Saint-Paul Luxembourg S.A. v. Luxembourg and ECtHR 16 July 2013, Case No. 73469/10, Nagla v. Latvia.

[30] See ECtHR 12 April 2011, Case No. 4049/08, Conceição Letria v. Portugal; ECtHR 19 April 2011, Case No. 22385/03, Kasabova v. Bulgaria; ECtHR 19 April 2011, Case No. 3316/04, Bozhkov v. Bulgaria; ECtHR 31 May 2011, Case No. 5995/06, Šabanović v. Montenegro and Serbia; ECtHR 28 June 2011, Case No. 28439/08, Pinto Coelho v. Portugal; ECtHR 19 July 2011, Case No. 23954/10, Uj v. Hungary; ECtHR 26 July 2011, Case No. 41262/05, Ringier Axel Springer Slovakia, a.s. v. Slovakia; ECtHR 22 November 2011, Case No. 1723/10, Mizzi v. Malta; ECtHR 10 January 2012, Case No. 34702/07, Standard Verlags GmbH (n° 3) v. Austria; ECtHR 17 January 2012, Case No. 29576/09, Lahtonen v. Finland; ECtHR 21 February 2012, Case Nos. 32131/08 and 41617/08, Tuşalp v. Turkey; ECtHR 19 June 2012, Case No. 3490/03, Tănăsoaica v. Romania; ECtHR 10 July 2012, Case No. 46443/09, Eiðsdóttir v. Iceland; ECtHR 10 July 2012, Case No. 43380/10, Hlynsdóttir v. Iceland; ECtHR 18 September 2012, Case No. 39660/07, Lewandowska-Malec v. Poland; ECtHR 2 October 2012, Case No. 5126/05, Yordanova and Toshev v. Bulgaria; ECtHR 16 October 2012, Case No. 17446/07, Smolorz v. Poland; ECtHR 23 October 2012, Case No. 19127/06, Jucha and Żak v. Poland; ECtHR 20 November 2012, Case Nos. 36827/06, 36828/06, and 36829/06, Belek v. Turkey; ECtHR 27 November 2012, Case Nos. 13471/05 and 38787/07, Mengi v. Turkey; ECtHR 22 January 2013, Case Nos. 33501/04, 38608/04, 35258/05, and 35618/05, OOO Ivpress and Others v. Russia; ECtHR 12 February 2013, Case No. 13824/06, Bugan v. Romania;  ECtHR 23 July 2013, Case No. 33287/10, Sampaio e Paiva de Melo v. Portugal; ECtHR 3 September 2013, Case No. 22398/05, Ümit Bilgiç v. Turkey; ECtHR 17 September 2013, Case No. 16812/11, Welsh and Silva Canha v. Portugal; ECtHR 22 October 2013, Case No. 11867/09, Soltész v. Slovakia;  ECtHR 29 October 2013, Case No. 66456/09, Ristamäki and Korvola v. Finland; ECtHR 3 December 2013, Case No. 64520/10, Ungváry and Irodalom Kft. v. Hongary; ECtHR 7 January 2014, Cases Nos. 21666/09 and 37986/09, Ringier Axel Springer Slovakia, a.s. (No. 2-3) v. Slovakia and ECtHR 17 April 2014, Case No. 20981/10, Mladina d.d. Ljubljana v. Slovenia; ECtHR 10 July 2014, Case No.  48311/10, Axel Springer AG v. Germany (no. 2); ECtHR 14 October 2014, Case No. 48723/07, Stankiewizc and others v. Poland and ECtHR 21 October 2014, Case No. 54125/10, Erla Hlynsdottir v. Iceland (no. 2).