The Supreme Court considers that preventing reporting on minors involved in crimes “violates freedom of information”


An image of the facade of the Supreme Court.

An image of the facade of the Supreme Court.
EP

The Supreme court (TS) has considered that absolutely prevent reporting on the minors involved in serious crimes “It would violate the freedom of information exercised in accordance with professional standards.”

This is stated by the Supreme Court in a ruling in which it has ruled that the newspaper El Correo did not violate the right to privacy of three minors accused of murdering two elderly people in the Otxarkoaga neighborhood of Bilbao, since it did not provide data that would allow its identification.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court revokes the compensation of 90,000 euros that the Bizkaia Court had imposed on the newspaper to pay said minors (30,000 euros each).

The initial lawsuit was filed by the Prosecutor’s Office for information published in that newspaper on August 9, 2018, with the headline “The prosecutor says that the three accused of the Otxarkoaga crime have ‘a broad street dynamic'”.

It detailed the indictment of the Public Prosecutor’s Office against the three minors accused of participating, to varying degrees, in the murder of two elderly people in that neighborhood of Bilbao that occurred in January of that year.

The Court of First Instance dismissed the claim and considered that the alleged violation had not occurred because “the lack of identification data of the minors” prevented the mentions contained in the article from affecting their privacy.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office appealed the sentence, and the Biscayan Court upheld his appeal on the understanding that there had been a Illegitimate interference in the right to privacy of minors, Therefore, it condemned the newspaper’s publishing company to compensate each of the minors in 30,000 euros.

The Provincial Court considered that the data published on the personality of the minors, their previous actions and consumption of toxins, “contribute nothing to the chronicle of the event that occurred, being an excess.”

Finally, the Supreme Court has upheld the newspaper’s appeal and has revoked the compensation, considering that the interpretation of the Biscayan court that the published data will not contribute anything to the news is not correct, since there was an “obvious public interest” in the news, “Predicable not only with respect to the act itself, but also with respect to the authorship, causes and circumstances of the criminal act.”

For the Supreme Court, “the impact on the privacy of minors has been very slight, if not non-existent, since the questioned newspaper article did not allow their identification” and only those who already knew the involvement of minors could have attributed the data published to those minors.

Therefore, “absolutely prevent information about minors involved in serious crimes, without identifying them, that helps public opinion to understand the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime, because the people from their closest environment know the relationship of those minors with the crime that is the subject of the news, would imply a disproportionate restriction that would violate the freedom of information exercised in accordance with professional standards “.

According to this sentence, no “morbid approach” was adopted to “air patches of personal intimacy” of the minorsRather, the published data “allow us to contextualize and understand the circumstances in which such distressing events occurred, which are also related to the more general problem that existed in the Otxarkoaga neighborhood due to the violent behavior of some young people, which was the subject of debate public at that time “.

The court finds that “it is inevitable” that when minors are involved in such serious crimes, their closest environment is aware of such a circumstance, “but such circumstance cannot prevent the press from reporting on the circumstances concurring in the events, including those referring to the profile of the alleged perpetrators, their family and educational context “.

“Prohibiting it (or considering the conduct of the press that reports on them illegal) would be tantamount to preventing the reporting of events involving minors, no matter how serious they may be, which constitutes an excessive restriction of freedom of information “, concludes the resolution.

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