EGMR: Forthcoming judgment on Thursday 21 September 2017 – Axel Springer SE and RTL Television GmbH v. Germany (no. 51405/12)

The applicants are two German media companies: the publishing house Axel Springer SE, registered in Berlin, and the broadcasting company RTL Television GmbH (“RTL”), registered in Cologne. The case concerns their complaint about a judicial order banning the publication of images in which the defendant in a criminal trial for murder could be identified.

Both media companies were covering the criminal proceedings against S., a young man who had confessed to the police to having killed his parents and was charged with murder in June 2010. A psychiatric expert opinion obtained by the public prosecutor found that he had been suffering from a schizoid personality disorder at the time of committing the offence. Photojournalists working for the two companies attended the hearings at the Potsdam Regional Court. Prior to the beginning of the first hearing on 11 January 2011 the presiding judge informed journalists that the defendant’s face would have to be made unidentifiable before any images of him were to be published. The presiding judge subsequently sent a reasoned order to the journalists, stating that only those who had registered with the court and given assurances that prior to publication of their material S.’s face would be made unidentifiable, for example by blurring it, were permitted to film or take photos. He noted in particular that the personality rights of S., who had never been the subject of public attention and who had expressly requested that his identity be concealed, outweighed the public interest in being informed.

The applicant companies subsequently filed an objection requesting the suspension of the judicial order, pointing out that S. had confessed to the crime on the first day of the proceedings. The presiding judge upheld the order. In February 2012 the Federal Constitutional Court declined to consider a constitutional complaint by the companies.

The applicant companies complain that the judicial order violated their rights under Article 10 (freedom of expression).

EGMR, Pressemitteilung v. 14.09.2017

Redaktioneller Hinweis

  • Zur Rechtsentwicklung im Presse-, Rundfunk-, Medienrecht vgl. hier.