A penalty imposed on a journalist for violation of the secrecy of criminal investigations was justified Bédat v. Switzerland (application no. 56925/08)
In Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Bédat v. Switzerland (application no. 56925/08) the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been: no violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case concerned the fining of a journalist for having published documents covered by investigative secrecy in a criminal case. The Court found in particular that the publication of an article slanted in the way it had been at a time when the investigation was still ongoing comprised the inherent risk of influencing the conduct of proceedings which had in itself justified the adoption by the domestic authorities of deterrent measures, such as a ban on disclosing confidential information.
While accepting that the accused could have had recourse to civil-law remedies to complain of interference in his private life, the Court nevertheless held that the existence in domestic law of remedies to which the accused could have had recourse did not dispense the State from its positive obligation to protect the private life of all persons charged in criminal proceedings. Finally, the Court found that the penalty imposed on the journalist for violation of secrecy, geared to protecting the proper functioning of justice and the accused’s rights to a fair trial and respect for his private life, had not amounted to disproportionate interference in the exercise of his right to freedom of expression.