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Recommendation No. R (2003) 13 on the provision of information through the media in relation to criminal proceedings

COUNCIL OF EUROPE
COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS
Recommendation Rec(2003)13
of the Committee of Ministers to member states
on the provision of information through the media
in relation to criminal proceedings
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 10 July 2003
at the 848th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe,
Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve greater unity between its members for the
purpose of safeguarding and realising the ideals and principles which are their common heritage;
Recalling the commitment of the member states to the fundamental right to freedom of expression and
information as guaranteed by Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter “the Convention”), which constitutes one of the essential foundations
of a democratic society and one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every
individual;
Recalling that the media have the right to inform the public due to the right of the public to receive
information, including information on matters of public concern, under Article 10 of the Convention, and
that they have a professional duty to do so;
Recalling that the rights to presumption of innocence, to a fair trial and to respect for private and family
life under Articles 6 and 8 of the Convention constitute fundamental requirements which must be
respected in any democratic society;
Stressing the importance of media reporting in informing the public on criminal proceedings, making the
deterrent function of criminal law visible as well as in ensuring public scrutiny of the functioning of the
criminal justice system;
Considering the possibly conflicting interests protected by Articles 6, 8 and 10 of the Convention and the
necessity to balance these rights in view of the facts of every individual case, with due regard to the
supervisory role of the European Court of Human Rights in ensuring the observance of the commitments
under the Convention;
Recalling, furthermore, the right of the media and journalists to create professional associations, as
guaranteed by the right to freedom of association under Article 11 of the Convention, which is a basis for
self-regulation in the media field;
Aware of the many initiatives taken by the media and journalists in Europe to promote the responsible
exercise of journalism, either through self-regulation or in co-operation with the state through coregulatory
frameworks;
Desirous to enhance an informed debate on the protection of the rights and interests at stake in the
context of media reporting relating to criminal proceedings, and to foster good practice throughout Europe
while ensuring access of the media to criminal proceedings;
Recalling its Resolution (74) 26 on the right of reply – position of the individual in relation to the press, its
Recommendation No. R (85) 11 on the position of the victim in the framework of criminal law and
procedure, its Recommendation No. R (97) 13 concerning the intimidation of witnesses and the rights of
the defence, and its Recommendation No. R (97) 21 on the media and the promotion of a culture of
tolerance;
Stressing the importance of protecting journalists’ sources of information in the context of criminal
proceedings, in accordance with its Recommendation No. R (2000) 7 on the right of journalists not to
disclose their sources of information;
Bearing in mind Resolution No. 2 on journalistic freedoms and human rights adopted at the 4th European
Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy (Prague, December 1994) as well as the Declaration on a
media policy for tomorrow adopted at the 6th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy
(Cracow, June 2000);
Recalling that this recommendation does not intend to limit the standards already in force in member
states which aim to protect freedom of expression,
Recommends, while acknowledging the diversity of national legal systems concerning criminal procedure,
that the governments of member states:
1. take or reinforce, as the case may be, all measures which they consider necessary with a view to
the implementation of the principles appended to this recommendation, within the limits of their respective
constitutional provisions,
2. disseminate widely this recommendation and its appended principles, where appropriate
accompanied by a translation, and
3. bring them in particular to the attention of judicial authorities and police services as well as to
make them available to representative organisations of lawyers and media professionals.
Appendix to Recommendation Rec(2003)13
Principles concerning the provision of information through the media
in relation to criminal proceedings
Principle 1 - Information of the public via the media
The public must be able to receive information about the activities of judicial authorities and police
services through the media. Therefore, journalists must be able to freely report and comment on the
functioning of the criminal justice system, subject only to the limitations provided for under the following
principles.
Principle 2 - Presumption of innocence
Respect for the principle of the presumption of innocence is an integral part of the right to a fair trial.
Accordingly, opinions and information relating to on-going criminal proceedings should only be
communicated or disseminated through the media where this does not prejudice the presumption of
innocence of the suspect or accused.
Principle 3 - Accuracy of information
Judicial authorities and police services should provide to the media only verified information or
information which is based on reasonable assumptions. In the latter case, this should be clearly indicated
to the media.
Principle 4 - Access to information
When journalists have lawfully obtained information in the context of on-going criminal proceedings from
judicial authorities or police services, those authorities and services should make available such
information, without discrimination, to all journalists who make or have made the same request.
Principle 5 - Ways of providing information to the media
When judicial authorities and police services themselves have decided to provide information to the
media in the context of on-going criminal proceedings, such information should be provided on a nondiscriminatory
basis and, wherever possible, through press releases, press conferences by authorised
officers or similar authorised means.
Principle 6 - Regular information during criminal proceedings
In the context of criminal proceedings of public interest or other criminal proceedings which have gained
the particular attention of the public, judicial authorities and police services should inform the media about
their essential acts, so long as this does not prejudice the secrecy of investigations and police inquiries or
delay or impede the outcome of the proceedings. In cases of criminal proceedings which continue for a
long period, this information should be provided regularly.
Principle 7 - Prohibition of the exploitation of information
Judicial authorities and police services should not exploit information about on-going criminal proceedings
for commercial purposes or purposes other than those relevant to the enforcement of the law.
Principle 8 - Protection of privacy in the context of on-going criminal proceedings
The provision of information about suspects, accused or convicted persons or other parties to criminal
proceedings should respect their right to protection of privacy in accordance with Article 8 of the
Convention. Particular protection should be given to parties who are minors or other vulnerable persons,
as well as to victims, to witnesses and to the families of suspects, accused and convicted. In all cases,
particular consideration should be given to the harmful effect which the disclosure of information enabling
their identification may have on the persons referred to in this Principle.
Principle 9 - Right of correction or right of reply
Without prejudice to the availability of other remedies, everyone who has been the subject of incorrect or
defamatory media reports in the context of criminal proceedings should have a right of correction or reply,
as the case may be, against the media concerned. A right of correction should also be available with
respect to press releases containing incorrect information which have been issued by judicial authorities
or police services.
Principle 10 - Prevention of prejudicial influence
In the context of criminal proceedings, particularly those involving juries or lay judges, judicial authorities
and police services should abstain from publicly providing information which bears a risk of substantial
prejudice to the fairness of the proceedings.
Principle 11 - Prejudicial pre-trial publicity
Where the accused can show that the provision of information is highly likely to result, or has resulted, in
a breach of his or her right to a fair trial, he or she should have an effective legal remedy.
Principle 12 - Admission of journalists
Journalists should be admitted to public court hearings and public pronouncements of judgements without
discrimination and without prior accreditation requirements. They should not be excluded from court
hearings, unless and as far as the public is excluded in accordance with Article 6 of the Convention.
Principle 13 - Access of journalists to courtrooms
The competent authorities should, unless it is clearly impracticable, provide in courtrooms a number of
seats for journalists which is sufficient in accordance with the demand, without excluding the presence of
the public as such.
Principle 14 - live reporting and recordings in court rooms
Live reporting or recordings by the media in court rooms should not be possible unless and as far as
expressly permitted by law or the competent judicial authorities. Such reporting should be authorised only
where it does not bear a serious risk of undue influence on victims, witnesses, parties to criminal
proceedings, juries or judges.
Principle 15 - Support for media reporting
Announcements of scheduled hearings, indictments or charges and other information of relevance to
legal reporting should be made available to journalists upon simple request by the competent authorities
in due time, unless impracticable. Journalists should be allowed, on a non-discriminatory basis, to make
or receive copies of publicly pronounced judgments. They should have the possibility to disseminate or
communicate these judgments to the public.
Principle 16 - Protection of witnesses
The identity of witnesses should not be disclosed, unless a witness has given his or her prior consent, the
identification of a witness is of public concern, or the testimony has already been given in public. The
identity of witnesses should never be disclosed where this endangers their lives or security. Due respect
shall be paid to protection programmes for witnesses, especially in criminal proceedings against
organised crime or crime within the family.
Principle 17 - Media reporting on the enforcement of court sentences
Journalists should be permitted to have contacts with persons serving court sentences in prisons, as far
as this does not prejudice the fair administration of justice, the rights of prisoners and prison officers or
the security of a prison.
Principle 18 - Media reporting after the end of court sentences
In order not to prejudice the re-integration into society of persons who have served court sentences, the
right to protection of privacy under Article 8 of the Convention should include the right to protect the
identity of these persons in connection with their prior offence after the end of their court sentences,
unless they have expressly consented to the disclosure of their identity or they and their prior offence are
of public concern again or have become of public concern again.
____________
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS
EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM
to Recommendation Rec(2003)13
of the Committee of Ministers to member states
on the provision of information through the media
in relation to criminal proceedings
I. Introduction
1. The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
(hereinafter referred to as the European Convention on Human Rights or ECHR) guarantees
freedom of expression and information under Article 10, the right to the presumption of
innocence and to a fair trial under Article 6 and the right to respect for private and family life
under Article 8.
2. The provision of information in relation to court proceedings, and in particular
criminal proceedings, corresponds to the right of the public to be informed on matters of
public concern, including justice. The right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the ECHR includes
hearings in public and the public pronouncement of judgments. Openness to the public can be
achieved by the media. However, Article 6 allows also for the exclusion of the public and the
media from all or parts of the trial for a limited number of cases referred to in Article 6 itself.
The exclusion of the media would also have to comply with the narrowly interpreted possible
restrictions of freedom of expression and information under Article 10 of the ECHR. Where
private information is disclosed during a trial, Article 8 of the ECHR may require the
protection of the privacy of this information.
3. Prominent cases in several member states concerning the media and the courts have
caused wide public attention and debate about such issues as secrecy of investigations, the
influence by the media on witnesses and judges, the presence of media in courtrooms as well
as audiovisual recordings of trials.
4. Against this background, in 1996, the Steering Committee on the Mass Media
(CDMM) identified the issue of media reporting in relation to criminal proceedings as being
of common interest to all member states, when it proposed the creation of a Group of
Specialists on media law and human rights (MM-S-HR) with a view to developing common
principles for the protection of freedom of the media as well as other fundamental rights of
individuals at stake before, during and after criminal proceedings. After having analysed
national laws and practices as well as the relevant case law of the European Court of Human
Rights, the MM-S-HR drew up a draft Recommendation on the provision of information
through the media in relation to criminal proceedings, which was finalised by the Steering
Committee and its Group of Specialists on freedom of expression and other fundamental
rights (MM-S-FR) in 2003.
5. The Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation Rec(2003)13 at the 848th
meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies on 10 July 2003.
II. General commentary
6. This recommendation is addressed to governments of member states and hence their
public authorities, including courts. Any recommendation of the Committee of Ministers is an
instrument of political commitment, and not a legally enforceable instrument. Through its
adoption by the Committee of Ministers, it binds all member states.
7. The recommendation does not seek to directly address the private sector, and in
particular the media or journalists. It is at the discretion of the member states to use measures
which they consider appropriate in order to safeguard and protect the rights and interests of
everyone in relation to criminal proceedings as outlined in this recommendation, depending
on their respective circumstances and legal traditions.
8. The recommendation provides guidelines for public authorities in the light of Articles
6, 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It does not intend to alter these
provisions as well as the obligations of member states under the Convention. Furthermore, it
does not intend to limit the standards already in force in member states which aim to protect
freedom of expression.
9. In the preamble of the recommendation, certain related recommendations and one
resolution are recalled. Resolution (74) 26 on the right of reply recommends member states to
recognise the right of reply and correction where media reports have been incorrect or
otherwise infringe the rights of individuals. Recommendation No. R (85) 11 on the position of
the victim in the framework of criminal law and procedure includes the recommendation, that
“information and public relations policies in connection with the investigation and trial of
offences should give due consideration to the need to protect the victim from any publicity
which will unduly affect his private life or dignity. If the type of offence or the particular
status or personal situation and safety of the victim make such special protection necessary,
either the trial before the judgment should be held in camera or disclosure or publication of
personal information should be restricted to whatever extent is appropriate”. In
Recommendation No. R (97) 13 concerning intimidation of witnesses and the rights of the
defence, member states are recommended to take appropriate legislative and practical
measures to ensure that witnesses may testify freely and without intimidation. In the context
of organised crime, the exclusion of the media and/or the public from all or part of the trial
should be considered. Finally, Recommendation No. R (97) 21 on the media and the
promotion of a culture of tolerance contains principles for media reporting without inciting to
ethnic intolerance.
10. Following the case law of the European Court of Human Rights concerning
journalists’ sources, the MM-S-FR had elaborated Recommendation (2000) 7 on the right of
journalists not to disclose their sources of information, which was adopted by the Committee
of Ministers on 8 March 2000. Although the main focus of the present recommendation is on
the right of the media to report about criminal proceedings, the MM-S-FR felt that
Recommendation (2000) 7 should be referred to in this context, as journalists reporting about
criminal proceedings might also disseminate information received from confidential sources.
Recommendation (2000) 7 and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as
interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights, would generally protect those sources in
such a case.
11. Member states are held “to disseminate widely this recommendation and its Appendix,
where appropriate accompanied by a translation”, as the dissemination of the recommendation
is a prerequisite for its proper implementation.
III. Commentary to the Recommendation
12. The specific recommendations or principles appear in the Appendix to the
recommendation. This Appendix is an integral part of the Recommendation itself. It is only
for sake of clarity that the individual “principles concerning the provision of information
through the media in relation to criminal proceedings” are grouped in the Appendix.
13. For the purposes of the recommendation, the term “criminal proceedings” shall be
understood as any action taken by judicial authorities or police services as well as
investigating bodies under the framework of penal law and procedure.
Principle 1 (Information of the public via the media)
14. Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the right of the
public to receive information of public concern. The principle of a public hearing and a public
pronouncement of judgments under Article 6 ECHR is part of the fair administration of
justice. Since media have a particular role in disseminating information to the public, they
should be able to disseminate information about the activities of judicial authorities and police
services. The right of the public to receive information on matters of public concern is of
particular importance in this context; it includes the right for the media to freely report and
comment on the functioning of the criminal justice system. The European Court of Human
Rights established, for instance, that the media are one of the means by which politicians and
public opinion can control and verify whether judges are discharging their heavy
responsibilities in a manner which is in conformity with the aim which is the basis of the task
entrusted to them.1
Principle 2 (Presumption of innocence)
15. Article 6, paragraph 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the
right to the presumption of innocence. This right is primarily a procedural right vis-à-vis
judicial authorities, which defines the burden of proof in criminal proceedings. However, the
fair administration of justice requires also that the presumption of innocence is not prejudiced
indirectly through opinions and information relating to pending criminal proceedings
disseminated by the media. The European Court of Human Rights has stated that “journalists
reporting on criminal proceedings currently taking place must, admittedly, ensure that they do
not overstep the bounds imposed in the interests of the proper administration of justice and
that they respect the accused’s right to be presumed innocent” (Du Roy and Malaurie v.
France (2000) para. 34). This being said, the Court holds that an absolute and general
prohibition of media reporting about criminal proceedings would be unnecessary and impede
the right of the press to inform the public about matters which, although relating to criminal
proceedings, may be in the public interest (ibid., para. 35 and 36).
1 Eu. Court H.R., Prager and Oberschlick v. Austria (1995), Series A, no. 313, para. 34.
Principle 3 (Accuracy of information)
16. The accuracy of information is important for both the credibility of judicial authorities
and police services as well as the credibility of the media. Therefore, Principle 3 recommends
that only accurate information should be provided, i.e. information based on facts or
reasonable assumptions. Where the information is based on such assumptions, this should be
clearly indicated. Although the truth of information might finally be judged by a court of law
only, this Principle shall prevent that inaccurate information is provided knowingly or even on
purpose, since it could undermine the authority of the law enforcement authorities and of the
judiciary as well as compromise the rights of the parties to criminal proceedings.
Principle 4 (Access to information)
17. Principle 4 recommends that journalists should not be excluded from access to
information on an arbitrary basis, for instance due to personal, political or other reasons,
where such information has already been obtained lawfully by other journalists.
18. National legal systems may also specifically grant access to official documents in this
context in accordance with Articles 6 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Principle 5 ( Ways of providing information to the media)
19. Under Principle 5, judicial authorities and police services should provide their
information to the media through organised and authorised channels, rather than by judicial
and police officers on an individual basis. The term “authorised officers” is to be understood
in a wide sense, indicating that the authority concerned should designate a staff member for
that purpose. Other “similar authorised means” in the sense of this Principle could include, for
instance, the provision of oral information by official spokespersons on the spot, as well as
written information material about a particular criminal proceeding given to journalists in
advance of a trial.
20. Some national judicial authorities and police services have developed their internal
guidelines for contacts with the media, including rules for the preparation of press releases.
Such internal guidelines might be useful for ensuring a high common standard among
domestic authorities. This will enhance the reliability of information and should contribute to
the quality of media reports. Under national law, police services may have less discretion than
judicial authorities to provide information to the media concerning their work.
Principle 6 (Regular information during criminal proceedings)
21. Where journalists and the media are not informed about criminal proceedings which
have gained the particular attention of the public through the persons involved, the seriousness
of the facts or other circumstances of public concern, it is likely that journalists will pursue
their own journalistic investigations. Such journalistic investigations conducted in parallel to
judicial investigations may, under certain circumstances, bear the risk of having a negative
effect on those judicial investigations, for example by publicly disclosing information,
portraying witnesses or contacting criminal offenders. This being said, parallel journalistic
investigations might also have positive effects, such as detecting witnesses or suspects.
22. Some member states have prescribed by domestic law the secrecy of criminal
investigations and police inquiries as a fundamental procedural principle. As stated by the
European Court of Human Rights in its Du Roy and Malaurie judgment of 3 October 2000,
however, an absolute secrecy of criminal investigations would not be compatible with Article
10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
23. Principle 6 therefore recommends that, under such circumstances, judicial authorities
and police services should keep the media informed during criminal investigations, so long as
this does not prejudice the secrecy of investigations and police inquiries or delay or impede
the outcome of the proceedings. If there is nothing new to report, judicial authorities and
police services should also mention this.
Principle 7 (Prohibition of the exploitation of information)
24. The commercial exploitation of information about on-going criminal proceedings by
judicial authorities and police services could undermine the impartiality of the judiciary and
the police. In addition, it could exclude journalists and media from access to such information
due to its cost. In the same vein, information should not be exploited for purposes other than
those relevant to the enforcement of the law.
25. This Principle does not, however, exclude the charging of fees for the provision of
information by judicial authorities or police services, in order to cover the expenses pertaining
to the production and dissemination of that information.
Principle 8 (Protection of privacy in the context of criminal proceedings)
26. Everyone has the right to the protection of private and family life under Article 8 of
the European Convention on Human Rights. Principle 8 recalls this protection for suspects,
the accused, convicted persons and other parties to criminal proceedings, who must not be
denied this right due to their involvement in such proceedings. The mere indication of the
name of the accused or convicted may constitute a sanction which is more severe than the
penal sanction delivered by the criminal court. It furthermore may prejudice the reintegration
into society of the person concerned. The same applies to the image of the accused or
convicted. Therefore, particular consideration should be given to the harmful effect which the
disclosure of information enabling their identification may have on the persons referred to in
this Principle.
27. An even stronger protection is recommended to parties who are minors, to victims of
criminal offences, to witnesses and to the families of suspects, the accused and convicted
persons. In this respect, member states may also refer to Recommendation No. R (85) 11 on
the position of the victim in the framework of criminal law and procedure and
Recommendation No. R (97) 13 concerning the intimidation of witnesses and the rights of the
defence.
Principle 9 (Right of correction or right of reply)
28. Member states are recommended to recognise in their domestic law and practice a
right of correction or reply or the possibility of bringing a complaint to a press council under
Resolution (74) 26 on the right of reply. Principle 9 recalls this right in relation to criminal
proceedings, where incorrect information may prejudice the presumption of innocence, for
example. In addition, Principle 9 recommends granting such a right also against incorrect
press releases of judicial authorities and police services, which would not otherwise qualify
under Resolution (74) 26. Judicial authorities and police services should nevertheless bear in
mind that there may be greater danger of prejudicial influence if they do not disclose
information to the media.
Principle 10 (Prevention of prejudicial influence)
29. Opinions and information about matters which are the subject of criminal proceedings
might, when they are disseminated publicly in the media, have a prejudicial influence on the
presumption of innocence, as referred to in Principle 2. This risk is especially high where
juries or lay judges are involved in criminal proceedings. Therefore, Principle 10 recommends
that judicial authorities and police services should abstain from publicly providing
information which bears a risk of substantial prejudicial influence to the fairness of the
proceedings. In this context, the term “judicial authorities” shall also include prosecutors and
investigating judges. The evaluation of the risk of prejudicial influence should be made on a
case-by-case basis, in the light of the circumstances of each case.
Principle 11 (Prejudicial pre-trail publicity)
30. Virulent media reporting might, in exceptional and rare cases, have a negative
influence on a given criminal proceeding, in particular on jury members, lay judges and
witnesses. It is not the intention of this Recommendation to harmonise the legal remedies for
accused under such circumstances. However, the MM-S-FR felt that a recommendation
containing principles on the provision of information through the media in relation to criminal
proceedings should also contain a principle recommending to member states that there should
be an effective legal remedy, where the provision of information is likely to result, or has
resulted, in a breach of the right to a fair trial.
Principle 12 (Admission of journalists)
31. Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the fundamental
right to a public hearing and the public pronouncement of a judgment. Such publicity is
achieved by allowing the public to attend hearings and pronouncements of judgments, as far
as members of the public are interested in attending, and depending on the capacity of the
courtroom. Where seats in courtrooms are not sufficient to accommodate all persons
interested, judicial authorities might also consider transmitting a hearing audio-visually to
another courtroom, if such facilities exist.
32. By admitting the media to public hearings and pronouncements of judgments, much
greater publicity can be achieved. Under certain circumstances, however, the fair
administration of justice may require the exclusion of the public from all or part of a hearing
under Article 6 of the ECHR.
33. Principle 12 recommends that journalists should be admitted to public court hearings
and the public pronouncement of judgments without discrimination and without prior formal
and pre-determined accreditation requirements. Any discrimination would be contrary to the
freedom of the media as guaranteed under Article 10 of the ECHR and could lead to a lack of
publicity required under Article 6 of the ECHR. As a general principle, the media should not
be excluded from court hearings, unless and as far as the public is excluded in accordance
with Article 6 of the ECHR.
Principle 13 (Access of journalists to courtrooms)
34. Since the media provide wider public access to court hearings through their reporting,
courtrooms should accommodate a sufficient number of seats for journalists. Depending on
the public interest in a given hearing, larger courtrooms with more seats should allow for
greater accommodation. The latter obviously depends on the circumstances and the
availability of courtrooms. The presence of the media should, however, not exclude the
participation of individual members of the public.
Principle 14 ( live reporting and recordings in courts rooms)
35. The live reporting or recording by the media of the voice or image of persons present
at court hearings may have an undue influence on those persons. Witnesses may either be
intimidated or attracted by cameras or the media, which might have an impact on their true
reporting of facts. Victims may also feel intimidated by them. Recommendation No. R (85) 11
on the position of the victim in the framework of criminal law and procedure as well as
Recommendation No. R (97) 13 concerning the intimidation of witnesses and the rights of the
defence refer to this phenomenon. For instance, pictures could be taken before the
proceedings start. This being said, members States are entitled to take any legal provisions
which they consider useful to protect certain categories of persons such as minors or
handcuffed accused persons.
36. Principle 14 draws the attention of member states to such a possible influence and
recommends that live reporting or recordings by the media in courtrooms should only be
possible where expressly permitted by law or the competent judicial authorities. Such
exceptional express permissions will provide a predictable and non-discriminatory legal
framework. For instance, it might be determined that trials of historical importance can be
recorded or filmed and possibly disseminated at a later stage. The same may be applied to
criminal proceedings at a superior court instance, especially where such proceedings are a
mere review of the law or essentially based on written submissions by the parties.
Principle 15 (Support for media reporting)
37. Judicial authorities may have an interest in supporting reporting about criminal
proceedings by making available, upon simple request and where practicable, announcements
of scheduled hearings, charges and other relevant information. Where they have such
information, the media will be less likely to produce inaccurate reports which might have an
undue influence on juries and lay judges or prejudice the presumption of innocence.
Therefore, Principle 15 recommends providing such support in due time and where
practicable. Such support should not be made subject to accreditation. During the proceedings,
a representative of the court should be, as far as possible, available for the media in order to
respond to their requests for clarification. Finally, journalists should be able to disseminate or
communicate judgments to the public, without undermining the protection of privacy under
Article 8 of the Convention of Human Rights.
Principle 16 (Protection of witnesses)
38. As mentioned above, media reporting about witnesses may have an intimidating effect
on them, especially where the identity of a witness is disclosed. This might even be contrary
to the witness protection under Recommendation No. R (97) 13 concerning the intimidation of
witnesses and the rights of the defence. Therefore, Principle 16 recommends that the identity
of witnesses should not be disclosed by the authorities to the media or by the media
themselves, unless a witness has given his or her prior consent, the identity of a witness is of
public concern, or the testimony has already taken place in public.
Principle 17 (Media reporting on the enforcement of court sentences)
39. Public scrutiny over the fair administration of justice is largely carried out through the
media. The enforcement of court sentences is part of this administration of justice. Therefore,
freedom of the media should include the possibility for journalists of having contacts with
persons serving court sentences, as far as this does not prejudice the fair administration of
justice, the rights of prisoners and prison officers or the security of a prison.
Principle 18 (Media reporting after the end of court sentences)
40. It is part of the fair administration of justice to allow for the re-integration into society
of persons who have served their court sentences. Media reporting about cases and prisoners
after the end of court sentences may prejudice such re-integration. Therefore, Principle 18
recommends that the right to the protection of privacy under Article 8 of the European
Convention on Human Rights should include the identity of these persons and their prior
offence, unless they and their prior offence are or have become of public concern. A simple
anniversary of a crime would thus not be sufficient. However, persons and their offences may,
for instance, be of public concern if those persons violate criminal law again or where their
prior offence was a crime without a limitation period, such as crimes against humanity or
genocide. The latter crimes are, for example, defined by the European Convention on the
Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitation to Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes of
1974.