ECHR has ruled that journalists should be able to use hidden cameras to report on issues of public interest

In a ground-breaking judgment, the European Court of Human Rights has held that journalists should be able to use hidden cameras to report on issues of public interest. The Court gave its judgment in the case of four Swiss journalists who had been convicted for invasion of privacy following their use of a hidden camera to report on insurance scams. Posing as potential customers they secretly filmed an insurance broker and subsequently broadcast the interview. They were sentenced to a fine. The journalists complained to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that their conviction violated their right to freedom of expression. The Media Legal Defence Initiative intervened to emphasize that the use of hidden recording devices is a vital tool of watchdog journalism. Agreeing with these submissions, the European Court also referred to the serious chilling effect of the use of the criminal law against journalists in cases such as this.

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