Portuguese state convicted of violating freedom of expression

In the judgment, which was known today and to which Lusa had access, the ECtHR judges unanimously decided that Portugal violated article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression.

The ECtHR states that the interference with SIC’s right to freedom of expression was “disproportionate and not necessary in a democratic society”, concluding that, consequently, there was a violation of article 10 of the Convention.

The judgment also states that the Portuguese State must pay that television channel 4,283.57 euros, within three months, in respect of costs and expenses.

At issue were reports broadcast in December 2003 by SIC and SIC Notícias that indicted the then secretary of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Azores as being involved in a process of pedophilia in the Azores, which was being investigated.

SIC Notícias reported on January 9, 2004 that Ricardo Rodrigues had been interrogated by the police, a news that was rectified on the same day, stating that a former socialist deputy had not been arrested or even indicted.

The former secretary of Agriculture and Fisheries, who eventually resigned from his post on December 8, 2003 following a “wave of rumours”, filed a lawsuit against the Carnaxide channel and its correspondent in the Azores who were sentenced to pay him damages of 145 thousand euros.

After an appeal by the television station and the correspondent, the Lisbon Court of Appeal acquitted the latter and reduced the amount to ten thousand euros, but Ricardo Rodrigues appealed to the Supreme Court of Justice, which established, in a ruling on October 23, 2012, the value of the indemnity in 115 thousand euros.

Of the 115 thousand euros, 65 thousand are for damages of a patrimonial nature and the other 50 thousand for non-property damages suffered.

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