Access to Public Information, Privacy, Data Protection and Retention
Mail and Guardian Media Ltd v. Chipu N.O.
Closed Mixed Outcome
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The Honourable Mr. Justice Keehan delivered the opinion of the High Court of Justice, Family Division in public. A written summary of the opinion, which protected the identities of the children and their relatives, was also published.
The Court held that in light of the emotional and psychological trauma the children experienced, their article 8 right to privacy “significantly outweighed” the media’s article 10 right to freedom of press.
In the opinion, the Court documented the great lengths which were taken to ensure the safe return of the children. The Court, upon application by the childrens’ relatives, made the children wards of the state in order to have them repatriated with the assistance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In order to protect the identities of the vulnerable children, the Court also issued a reporting restrictions order, which was subsequently violated by a reporter.
In response, the Judge issued a revised reporting restrictions order establishing that any violations of that order would constitute a contempt of court.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
The opinion contracts expression insofar as it upheld the right of children to privacy and family life over the right of journalistic freedom of the press and expression. The Judge balanced the competing interests and due to the complexity and sensitivity of the present case, he felt that balance had to favor the childrens’ right to privacy in order for them to recover from their traumatic experiences. The Judge also raised the penalty and added additional protections for the well being of the children by establishing that any violation of the reporting restrictions order, especially by journalists, would result in contempt of court.
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
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