Applicant name X.
Applicant type Natural Person (prisoner)
Country Germany
Decision no. 2413/65
Date 6/12/1966
Institution Commission (Plenary)
Type Decision
Outcome Art. 8 Inadmissible
Reason Manifestly ill-founded; Prevention of disorder or crime
Type of privacy
Keywords Horizontal relationship; ratione personae; right to reputation; ratione materiae; positive obligation; prisoner; correspondence; certain margin of appreciation;
Facts of the case Man has committed crimes and is detained; the media report on him in rather harsh tone.
Analysis Interesting case for four reasons:

1. The Commission makes clear that to the extent that the applicant complains about the reports in the press themselves, such is not covered by the Convention, as only it covers only potential violations by Member States, not by private parties. Consequently, these claims are rejected ratione personae.
2. Importantly, the authors of the Convention made a conscious choice to base Article 8 ECHR on Article 12 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Although the latter article also contains, besides the right to privacy, family life, home and correspondence, the protection of honour and reputation, such was rejected from the ECHR. This decision had been made because the reputation of citizens was mostly damaged by private parties (media) and only seldom by governmental organisations. Consequently, the protection of the right to reputation is a ground contained in paragraph 2 of Article 10 ECHR, on the basis of which Member States may limit the right to freedom of expression, but it is not a subjective right that citizens can invoke. Although in its later jurisprudence, the Court has overturned this decision and has accepted a subjective right to the protection of honour and reputation, in this case, the Commission still makes clear that the right to reputation is not covered by the Convention and that claims to that end must be rejected ratione materiae.
3. It seems as though the Commission does not directly reject the idea that a Member State could have a positive obligation to protect persons against slander and negative coverage in the press, it does not believe that there was any reason for such obligation in this case: ‘Whereas an examination of the case as it has been submitted does not disclose any grounds on which the alleged conduct of the press, radio or television enterprises concerned could exceptionally entail the responsibility of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany under the Convention’.
4. Again, with respect to the question of limiting prisoners’ correspondence by authorities is discussed by the Commission in a laconic way, hinting that the authorities have a certain margin of appreciation when dealing with such matters.

Documents Decision