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ORAC
18th Oct 2004, 19:56
Daily Telegraph: EU judges end human rights law for press


The European Court has quietly brushed aside 50 years of international case law in a landmark judgment on press freedom, ruling that Brussels does not have to comply with European human rights codes. In a judgment with profound implications for civil liberties, Euro-judges backed efforts by the European Commission to obtain the computers, address books, telephone records and 1,000 pages of notes seized by Belgian police - on EU instructions - from Hans-Martin Tillack, the former Brussels correspondent of Germany's Stern magazine.

It is a test case of whether the European Court will adhere to the democratic freedoms and liberal principles upheld for the last half-century by Europe's top rights watchdog, the non-EU Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, or whether it will pursue a more authoritarian line as it grows in power.

Mr Tillack had written a series of hard-hitting exposes of EU fraud and skulduggery, relying on inside sources. By obtaining his archive of investigative files amassed over five years, the commission can identify key sources and "burn" a generation of EU whistleblowers. He was arrested by the Belgian police in March and held incommunicado for 10 hours for allegedly bribing an official to obtain internal EU documents. The action was requested "urgently" by the EU's anti-fraud office, which claimed Mr Tillack was about leave for America. In fact, he was moving back to Hamburg.

Leaked anti-fraud office documents have since shown that the allegation was concocted over dinner between two commission spokesmen. Raymond Kendall, the former Interpol chief and now head of anti-fraud office oversight board, testified to the Lords in May that officials had acted improperly "purely on the basis of hearsay" and were "obviously" in collusion with Belgian police to identify Mr Tillack's sources. Claiming that the anti-fraud office head had more power to launch raids and seize documents than any other police chief in the world, he said the body was a danger to civil liberties. "They can do whatever they want to do. There is absolutely no control whatsoever," he said.

Mr Tillack filed a lawsuit at the European Court with the backing of the International Federation of Journalists to block commission access to his records. The federation pleaded that the EU's attempt to identify a journalist's sources in that fashion was a "flagrant violation" of press protection established over decades in European Convention law. If the commission is allowed to sift through his records, it would render investigative journalism "virtually impossible" in Brussels. Mr Tillack's lawyers cited extensive case law, including the case of "Goodwin v UK" in 1996, ruling that the protection of sources was the cornerstone of a free press and "genuine democracy".

The human rights court ruled against Luxembourg last year that identifying a source of leaks did not constitute a "pressing social need" that could justify a breach of Article 10 on press freedom. But the EU's Court of First Instance ruled against Mr Tillack last week on the grounds that the case was a strictly Belgian matter. Euro-judges accepted commission claims that it played no role in the arrest of Mr Tillack, even though leaked anti-fraud office documents show it orchestrated the raid from the beginning.

It is not the first time the European Court has appeared to ignore established human rights law. It ruled in "Connolly v Commission" in 2001 that the EU could curtail civil rights to defend the "general interest of the communities" where necessary, despite human rights case law clearly and repeatedly banning recourse to such sweeping powers. In theory, the European Court is obliged to defer to the court of human rights as the higher authority in all areas of rights protection.

The Tillack and Connolly rulings offer the first evidence that Euro-judges may create their own very different brand of civil rights law.

M.Mouse
19th Oct 2004, 00:09
How very suprising.

AntiCrash
19th Oct 2004, 03:46
Perhaps they're falling in goosestep behind Herr Bush and Company. Ja?:E

Wino
19th Oct 2004, 04:26
That is WELL BEYOND anything Bush could even HOPE to achieve.

Amazing and truly frightening... More so because it can't even be defended as a state security thing (THe EU is not a state.... YET)

There is no way on earth Bush could ever achieve this. But I am sure he can wish for it.

Cheers
Wino

West Coast
19th Oct 2004, 05:25
The fall of one regime is usually closely associated with the rise of another......

Cyclic Hotline
19th Oct 2004, 06:01
The Sprout (http://www.thesprout.net/)

An excellent review of everything that is wrong with this Organisation!

Blacksheep
19th Oct 2004, 06:03
Just got back from a few days business in Shanghai. I can tell you that the Fall of the West is inevitable and its not too far away.

Napoleon said that when China awakes it will shake the world. Well China is definitely wide awake now. I'm off to study Mandarin...

Val d'Isere
19th Oct 2004, 07:02
It is a test case of whether the European Court will adhere to the democratic freedoms and liberal principles upheld for the last half-century by Europe's top rights watchdog, the non-EU Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, or whether it will pursue a more authoritarian line as it grows in power.
China is a country of "democratic freedoms and liberal principles" is it?

Despite that contradiction, I'd agree that the European Court and, in fact the EU in general is hurtling right on course to becoming the sort of oppressive organisation I expected.

WE Branch Fanatic
19th Oct 2004, 10:57
Didn't the Nazis start by banning the free press?

tony draper
19th Oct 2004, 11:01
Yeh, and look where half a century of liberal principles have got us.
We have more social workers than policemen.
:rolleyes:

chuks
19th Oct 2004, 12:15
The US Presidency was once described as a 'bully pulpit', by Theodore Roosevelt. I think that is about right.

Even a twirp such as George W. Bush is limited in the amount of damage he can inflict because of our inbuilt `checks and balances´.

The Yank-bashers here can rage about this or that prez, and I have to admit that Bush seems to be one of the worst, but the American system really is quite something. Well, we did steal a few ideas from the Brits and the French to begin with, so kudos to all, say I.

But now you folks have a load of soulless, mindless Eurocrats in Brussels attempting a sort of United States of Europe without much in the way of oversight, and making a pretty poor fist of it in my opinion. I think this experiment is going to end in tears, actually. Given that I do live in Germany this rather limits the amount of `Schadenfreude´ I can wallow in but I still have to stick it to you just a little bit.

When are the various national politicians going to wake up to what is happening to their national systems in the name of the Greater EU? Forget George W. Bush; even Adolf Hitler couldn't have envisioned what is now going on!

Blacksheep
20th Oct 2004, 09:54
China is a country of "democratic freedoms and liberal principles" is it?

No it isn't; while in China I simply observed that its on the rise and its people are fast becoming prosperous by a central plan that is working. Democratic freedoms have nothing to do with being No. 1 top dog and the West's days of dominance are numbered. The rest of us have about a dozen years to learn Mandarin or be left out of it.

BTW, that's 'West' as in everything West of China, not simply the USA.