775
Views
0
CrossRef citations to date
0
Altmetric
Comment and Analysis

The right of reply under the European Convention on Human Rights: an analysis of Eker v Turkey App no 24016/05 (ECtHR, 24 October 2017)

Pages 17-36 | Received 22 Jan 2018, Accepted 20 Mar 2018, Published online: 03 Apr 2018
 

ABSTRACT

This article analyses the latest judgment of the European Court of Human Rights dealing with the right of reply. The court held that the compulsion for a publisher to print a reply to an editorial he had written and published in his newspaper did not violate his fundamental rights. Exploring the key findings, this analysis sets out the decision’s wider implications for freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, and the right to private life. Particularly, the case comes to significant conclusions that might result in the widening of the admissible content of a reply and an extension of the scope of the remedy. By reinterpreting the normative foundations of the right of reply, it also combines disparate approaches from previous case law. Thus, this article highlights both the ruling’s practical implications and potential repercussions for future application of domestic and international law on the right of reply.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.

Notes on contributor

Felix Hempel is a PhD candidate at the University of East Anglia Law School.

Notes

1 Eker v Turkey App no 24016/05 (ECtHR, 24 October 2017).

2 So far, this judgment is only available in French. The registrar of the ECtHR has published a summary in English (24 October 2017) <https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/app/conversion/pdf?library=ECHR&id=003-5897640-7522189&filename=Judgment%20Eker%20v.%20Turkey%20-%20requirement%20for%20a%20newspaper%20publisher%20to%20print%20a%20reply%20correcting%20an%20article%20.pdf> accessed 20 March 2018.

3 Ediciones Tiempo SA v Spain App no 13010/87 (ECtHR, 12 July 1989); Melnychuk v Ukraine App no 28743/03 (ECtHR, 5 July 2005); Kaperzyński v Poland App no 43206/07 (ECtHR, 3 April 2012). This is discussed below.

4 See for example: NY Times Co v Sullivan, 376 US 254, 279 (1964); Miami Herald Publishing Co v Tornillo 418 US 241 (1974); Andrew Martin, ‘The Right of Reply in England’ in Martin Löffler and others (eds), The Right of Reply in Europe (CH Beck 1974) 34–40; Committee on Privacy and Related Matters, Report of the Committee on Privacy and Related Matters (Cm 1102, 1990) 44; Alastair Mullis and Andrew Scott, ‘Tilting at Windmills: The Defamation Act 2013’ (2014) 77 (1) MLR 87, 107–108.

5 For a rationale of the arguments, see, for example, Charles Danziger, ‘The Right of Reply in the US and Europe’ (1986) 19 (1) NYU Journal of International Law and Politics 171, 176–180; Eric Barendt, Freedom of Speech (OUP 2005) 422–26; Stephen Gardbaum, ‘A Reply to the Right of Reply’ (2008) 76 (4) George Washington Law Review 1065; Andras Koltay, ‘The Right of Reply in a European Comparative Perspective’ (2013) 54 (1) Hungarian Journal of Legal Studies 73. For further discussion, see below.

6 The exact scope and requirements of a right of reply depend on the provision of each member state.

7 See the analysis of the judgment below.

8 See e.g. David Björgvinsson, ‘The Right of Reply’ in Josep Casadevall and others (eds), Freedom of Expression: Essays in Honour of Nicolas Bratza (WLP 2012) 164.

9 Eker (n 1) paras 5–13.

10 ibid, para 18.

11 See e.g. Jussila v Finland App no 73053/01 (ECtHR, 23 November 2006), para 41.

12 Eker (n 1) para 24.

13 ibid.

14 ibid.

15 ibid, para 30.

16 ibid, para 31.

17 Right of reply proceedings under Turkish law require national courts to rule within three days. This is shorter than average compared to other countries.

18 Eker (n 1) para 30.

19 ibid.

20 ibid.

21 ibid, para 45.

22 For the general principles on freedom of expression, the court referred to Morice v France App no 29369/10 (ECtHR, 23 April 2015), paras 124–25.

23 Turkish Constitution, art 32 and Turkish Press Act No 5187, art 14.

24 Eker (n 1) para 47.

25 ibid, paras 47, 50.

26 ibid, paras 45, 46.

27 ibid, para 48.

28 ibid, para 43.

29 Karácsony and Others v Hungary App nos 42461/13 and 44357/13 (ECtHR, 17 May 2016), para 132.

30 Eker (n 1) para 51.

31 App no 13010/87 (ECtHR, 12 July 1989).

32 Prior to becoming obsolete with the restructuring of the ECtHR in 1998, applications under the ECHR were preliminarily examined by the European Commission of Human Rights.

33 Ediciones Tiempo (n 31) p 253.

34 Ronan Ó Fathaigh, ‘The Recognition of a Right of Reply under the European Convention’ (2012) 4 (2) Journal of Media Law 322, 325.

35 Ediciones Tiempo (n 31) p 254.

36 Regarding Ediciones Tiempo see also John Hayes, ‘The Right to Reply: A Conflict of Fundamental Rights’ (2004) 37 Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems 551, 574.

37 App no 28743/03 (ECtHR, 5 July 2005).

38 Koltay (n 5) 76.

39 Melnychuk (n 37) para 2.

40 ibid.

41 App no 43206/07 (ECtHR, 3 April 2012).

42 ibid, para 66.

43 App no 51706/11 (ECtHR, 28 March 2017).

44 ibid, para 50.

45 In Eker, the ECtHR refers to all judgments mentioned in the section above (‘The normative foundation for a right of reply under the ECHR prior to Eker’) apart from Marunic (n 43).

46 Eker (n 1) para 47.

47 ibid, paras 47, 50.

48 Radio France v France App no 53984/00 (ECtHR, 30 March 2004), para 31.

49 Eker (n 1) para 47.

50 The court did not refer to Marunic (n 43).

51 Eker (n 1) para 43.

52 ibid, paras 43, 45, 46.

53 ibid, paras 45, 46.

54 Björgvinsson (n 8) 164.

55 For an analysis of the ‘Streisand Effect’, see Rebecca Moosavian, ‘Jigsaws and Curiosities: The Unintended Consequences of Misuse of Private Information Injunctions’ (2016) 21 (4) Communications Law 104.

56 Andrew Scott, ‘“Ceci n’est pas une pipe”: The Autopoietic Inanity of the Single Meaning Rule’ in Andrew Kenyon (ed), Comparative Defamation and Privacy Law (CUP 2013) 53.

57 Eker (n 1) paras 48, 49.

58 Melnychuk (n 37) para 2. In this case, the reply in question called the publisher of the newspaper a ‘subhuman’ and a ‘member’ (член) [i.e. a slang term for a part of the male anatomy]. Further, it gave a confusing account of the publisher’s political and business activities.

59 Eker (n 1) para 48.

60 ibid, para 50; see also (although not cited by Eker) Saliyev v Russia App no 35016/03 (ECtHR, 21 October 2010), para 52.

61 Eker (n 1) para 51.

62 ibid, para 45.

63 See Gardbaum (n 5) 1068, who points out that due to the lack of empirical research the existence of the chilling effect is difficult to prove.

64 Regarding the view that the right of reply has a ‘chilling effect’ see NY Times Co v Sullivan, 376 US 254, 279 (1964); Miami Herald Publishing Co v Tornillo 418 US 241 (1974). For a contradictory view, see Danziger (n 5) 176–80.

65 See e.g. HC Deb 10 March 1993 Standing Committee F, vol 8, col 72.

66 Regarding the right of reply.

67 Melnychuk (n 37) para 1: As the applicant failed to substantiate his claim, the complaint under art 6 was held manifestly ill-founded. See also Vitrenko and others v Ukraine App no 23510/02 (ECtHR, 16 December 2008), where the court found the claim that the domestic courts were impartial as inadmissible.

68 Eker (n 1) para 28.

69 Right of reply proceedings are, like in Eker, often only of summary nature. See e.g. German Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO) s 926.

70 Ediciones Tiempo (n 31) p 254.

71 See section below, entitled ‘For online content?’

72 Ediciones Tiempo (n 31) p 247.

73 Eker (n 1) para 47.

74 ibid.

75 Recommendation Rec(2004)16 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the Right of Reply in the New Media Environment (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 15 December 2004 at the 909th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies).

76 See e.g. France, where the scope of right of reply in the press includes factual statements and opinions (1881 Press Act, art 13).

77 See e.g. Germany, where the right of reply in the press deriving from the law of the Federal States (Bundesländer) is limited to ‘assertions of facts’: Press Law for the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, s 11(1).

78 For the debate of whether the German right of reply should be extended to opinions see Walter Seitz, Der Gegendarstellungsanspruch (CH Beck 2016) 127–61.

79 Kyu Ho Youm, ‘The Right of Reply and Freedom of the Press: An International and Comparative Perspective’ (2008) 76 George Washington Law Review 1017, 1048.

80 Seitz (n 78).

81 Fathaigh (n 34) 325.

82 Melnychuk (n 37) para 2; see also, ECtHR, ‘Positive obligations on member States under Article 10 to protect journalists and prevent impunity’, p 5 (Research Report, December 2011) <https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Research_report_article_10_ENG.pdf> accessed 20 March 2018.

83 For a critical analysis of statutory underpinning, see Eric Barendt, ‘Statutory Underpinning: A Threat to Press Freedom? (2013) 5 (2) Journal of Media Law 189.

84 Royal Charter on Self-Regulation of the Press 2014, s 4.

85 Select Committee on Communications, Press Regulation: Where Are We Now? (HL 2014–15, 135), para 92.

86 John Lloyd, ‘Regulate Yourself’ (2015) 86 (3) The Political Quarterly 393.

87 IMPRESS, ‘Guidance on the IMPRESS Standards Code’ (2017), p 11 <https://www.impress.press/downloads/file/code/impress-code-guidance.pdf> accessed 20 March 2018.

88 Niall Duffy, ‘IPSO One Year On’ (2016) 7 (2) Journal of Media Law 116, 119.

89 Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, The Editors’ Codebook: The Handbook to the Editors’ Code of Practice (2018) pp 15, 26 <http://www.editorscode.org.uk/downloads/codebook/codebook-2018.pdf> accessed 20 March 2018.

90 Some elements of the right of reply also exist in other remedies.

91 Björgvinsson (n 8) 175.

92 Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 [2010] OJ 2 95/1, art 28.

93 Office of Communications Act 2002, s 1.

94 Communications Act 2003, s 1.

95 The current version is the Ofcom Broadcasting Code April 2017, see Ofcom, ‘Ofcom Broadcasting Code April 2017’ (April 2017) <https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/100103/broadcast-code-april-2017.pdf> accessed 20 March 2018.

96 Broadcasting Act 1996, s 107, in connection with Communications Act 2003 ss 319–28.

97 Royal Charter for the continuance of the British Broadcasting Corporation 2017, s 44; see also Ofcom, ‘Holding the BBC to Account for Delivering for Audiences’ (October 2017) <https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0023/107069/bbc-performance-statement.pdf> accessed 20 March 2018.

98 Ofcom, ‘Introduction to Ofcom’s Operating Framework for the BBC’ (2017), s 3.5 <https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0030/99408/bbc-framework.pdf> accessed 20 March 2018.

99 The Ofcom Broadcasting Code (n 95) s 7.11.

100 Ofcom, ‘Guidance Notes Section 7’ (December 2009), p 2 <https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/24713/section7.pdf> accessed 20 March 2018.

101 Communications Act 2003, s 236.

102 Communications Act 2003, s 236(2), (3). For an example of how the ‘opportunity to respond’ works in practice, see Eric Barendt, Jason Bosland, Rachael Craufurd Smith and Lesley Hitchens, Media Law: Text, Cases and Materials (Pearson 2013) 160.

103 Graham Smith, Internet Law and Regulation (Sweet & Maxwell 2007) 345.

104 For an analysis of certain disagreements between the EU and the Council of Europe over their respective roles in developing media law and policy, see Daithi Mac Sithigh, ‘Death of a Convention: Competition between the Council of Europe and European Union in the Regulation of Broadcasting’ [2013] 5(1) Journal of Media Law 133.

105 Directive 2010/13/EU, art 1.1.

106 Directive 2010/13/EU, art 28.

107 European Commission, ‘Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2010/13/EU’ (Eur-Lex, 25 May 2016) <http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52016PC0287&from=EN> accessed 20 March 2018.

108 European Commission Staff Working Document (May 2015) <http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52016SC0170&from=EN> accessed 20 March 2018.

109 ibid, s 6.6.

110 UK Government, ‘UK Government response to the European Commission Consultation on the Review of the AVMSD’, p 40 (HM Government, 2015) <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/489539/bis-16-15-audiovisual-media-eu-consultation-response.pdf> accessed 20 March 2018.

111 European Commission Staff Working Document (n 108) s 6.6.

112 European Commission, ‘Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2010/13/EU’ (n 107).

113 European Parliament, ‘Briefing – EU Legislation in Progress: The Audiovisual Media Services Directive’ (June 2017), p 1 <http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/583859/EPRS_BRI(2016)583859_EN.pdf> accessed 20 March 2018.

114 ibid.

115 European Parliament, ‘Briefing’ (n 113) 15.

116 For an overview of the rationales to this discussion, see Rachael Craufurd Smith, ‘Media Convergence and the Regulation of Audiovisual Content: Is the European Community’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive Fit for Purpose?’ (2007) 68 (1) Current Legal Problems 238; Daithi Mac Sithigh, ‘Co Regulation, Video-on-Demand and the Legal Status of Audio Visual Media’ (2011) 2 (1) International Journal of Digital Television 49.

117 European Parliament, ‘Briefing – The AVMSD: State of Play’ (2015) <http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2015/571329/EPRS_BRI(2015)571329_EN.pdf> accessed 20 March 2018.

118 Craufurd Smith (n 116) 252.

119 For an analysis of how ‘Smart-TVs’ impact this distinction, see Alexander Scheuer, ‘Convergent Devices, Platforms and Services for Audiovisual Media Challenges Set by Connected Television for the EU Legislative Framework’ in Susanne Nikoltchev (ed), Converged Media: Same Content, Different Laws? (Iris Plus 2013) 7–22.

120 Francisco Javier Cabrera Blázquez and others, ‘On-Demand Services and the Material Scope of the AVMSD’ (Iris, January 2016) <https://rm.coe.int/1680783488> accessed 20 March 2018.

121 See e.g. ‘All 4’, which is a video on demand service provided by the Channel Four Television Corporation <http://www.channel4.com/programmes/catchup> accessed 20 March 2018.

122 Stephen Ridgway, ‘The Audiovisual Media Services Directive: What Does It Mean, Is It Necessary and What are the Challenges to Its Implementation?’ (2008) 14 (4) Computer and Telecommunications Law Review 108, 110.

123 The Ofcom Broadcasting Code (n 95) p 3.

124 Ofcom, ‘Complain about a video-on-demand-service’ (April 2017) <https://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv-radio-and-on-demand/how-to-report-a-complaint/complain-about-a-video-on-demand-service> accessed 20 March 2018.

125 See Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, ‘Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017’ (Reuters Institute, June 2017) <https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Digital%20News%20Report%202017%20web_0.pdf?utm_source=digitalnewsreport.org&utm_medium=referral> accessed 20 March 2018.

126 For a discussion of whether ‘press-like’ content should fall within the scope of AVMS, see Irini Katsirea, ‘Electronic Press: “Press-like” or “television-like”?’ (2015) 23 (2) International Journal of Law and IT 134.

127 Council of Europe Committee of Ministers (n 75).

128 For a brief display of the rationales to this discussion, see Smith (n 103) 345–47.

129 See section above, entitled ‘What is the right of reply’s normative foundation according to Eker and why is this significant?’.

130 For the admissibility of individual applications, see ECHR, art 34. See also ECtHR, ‘Practical Guide on Admissibility Criteria’, p 14 (Admissibility Guide, 1 January 2014) <https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Admissibility_guide_ENG.pdf> accessed 20 March 2018.

131 Eker (n 1) para 47.

132 ibid, para 43.

133 ibid, para 47.

134 Barendt, Freedom of Speech (n 5) 95.

135 See n 82.

136 For a broad overview, see Youm (n 79) 1027–51.

137 Decision of the Complaints Committee, 13416-16 Versi v Express.co.uk (IPSO Rulings, 20 March 2017) <https://www.ipso.co.uk/rulings-and-resolution-statements/ruling/?id=13416-16> accessed 20 March 2018.

138 Broadcasting Act 1996, ss 111(1), 130.

139 If all other requirements are fulfilled.

140 Eker (n 1) para 48.

Log in via your institution

Log in to Taylor & Francis Online

PDF download + Online access

  • 48 hours access to article PDF & online version
  • Article PDF can be downloaded
  • Article PDF can be printed
USD 53.00 Add to cart

Issue Purchase

  • 30 days online access to complete issue
  • Article PDFs can be downloaded
  • Article PDFs can be printed
USD 254.00 Add to cart

* Local tax will be added as applicable

Related Research

People also read lists articles that other readers of this article have read.

Recommended articles lists articles that we recommend and is powered by our AI driven recommendation engine.

Cited by lists all citing articles based on Crossref citations.
Articles with the Crossref icon will open in a new tab.