EGMR stärkt Informantenschutz

Mit seiner heutigen Entscheidung im Fall Tillack hat der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte ein deutliches Zeichen für die Stärkung des Informatenschutzes gesetzt, in dem er die auf Anregung der EU-Antibetrugsbehörde OLAF von der Belgischen Polizei im Jahre 2004 durchgeführten Haus- und Bürodurchsuchungen und Beschlagnahmen beim Brüsseler STERN Journalisten wegen Verstoßes gegen Artikel 10 der EMRK für rechtswidrig erklärte. Zugleich erteilte der Europäische Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte in Straßburg damit den Gerichten der Europäischen Union in Luxembourg und der belgischen Justiz eine Lektion in Sachen Menschenrechtsschutz, diese hatten entsprechende Klagen von Herrn Tillack zuvor stets zurückgewiesen.

In der englischen Fassung der offiziellen Pressemitteilung des Gerichts heißt es wörtlich:

„The Court reiterated that the press played an essential role in a democratic society and that the protection of journalistic sources was a basic condition for press freedom.

In the applicant’s case the Court considered that the searches in question had amounted to interference with the applicant’s right to freedom of expression. The interference had been provided for in the Belgian Code of Criminal Procedure and pursued the legitimate aim of preventing disorder and crime, as well as preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence and protecting the reputation of others.

As to whether the interference had been “necessary in a democratic society”, the Court noted, among other things, that it was evident that, at the time when the searches took place, their purpose had been to identify the source of the information reported by the applicant in his articles. The measures had therefore concerned the protection of journalistic sources.

That being so, the Court emphasised that a journalist’s right not to reveal her or his sources could not be considered a mere privilege to be granted or taken away depending on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of their sources, but was part and parcel of the right to information, to be treated with the utmost caution, even more so in the applicant’s case, where he had been under suspicion because of vague, uncorroborated rumours, as subsequently confirmed by the fact that he had not been charged. The Court also took into account the amount of property seized.

Lastly, the Court considered that although the reasons given by the Belgian courts were “relevant”, they could not be considered “sufficient” to justify the impugned searches. It accordingly found that there had been a violation of Article 10 and declared the remainder of the application inadmissible.“