Journalists cannot be expelled from Parliament
Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM, EFJ-IFJ affiliate) welcomed the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case Selmani and others against the Republic of Macedonia related to the events of December 24, 2012 when journalists were forcibly expelled from the gallery of the Macedonian Parliament where they were reporting on a parliamentary debate about approval of the State budget for 2013. During the debate a group of opposition MPs had started creating a disturbance in the parliamentary chamber, and had been ejected by security officers. The applicants, accredited journalists, had refused to leave the gallery, a designated area for journalists, and ended up being forcibly removed by security.
The Court said “the Government had notably failed to convince the Court that it had been necessary or justified to remove the applicants from the Parliament gallery. In particular, there was no indication that there had been any danger from the protests which had taken place outside the Parliament building on the day of the incident, from the applicants themselves (who had neither contributed to nor participated in the disturbance in the chamber) or from the MPs who had been at the origin of the disorder. Nor was the Court convinced that the applicants had effectively been able to view the ongoing removal of the MPs, a matter which had been of legitimate public concern. Furthermore, the applicants’ case before the Constitutional Court had not involved exclusively issues of law, but issues of facts which were contested and which were relevant for the outcome of the case; they had therefore been entitled to an oral hearing. However, despite their request, the Constitutional Court had not held an oral hearing on their case without providing any reasons why it had not been necessary. European Court found a violation of two rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 the right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the Convention.”
“This judgment is the first in which the infringement of freedom of expression is violated and is very important for democracy and rule of law in the country. At the same time, the judgment is a victory of the journalistic community and has shown that justice always is worth fighting. Justice may be slow but always wins. It contributes to create a legal culture in Macedonia and assert the principle of respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms. This judgment is proof that the institutions in the country failed to meet its primary mission to protect and promote human rights”, said ZNM in a statement.
All the details of the verdict will be presented by ZNM at a press conference that will be held tomorrow (10.02.2017 year) at 11.00 in the Club of Journalists in Skopje (Macedonia).
The judgment is available at the following link