Privacy, refugees, children

Four Courts dome, via the website.Law reports from today’s Irish Times:

Photos of sex offender may not be published
Callaghan v Independent News and Media Ltd: Northern Ireland High Court, Judgment was given by Mr Justice Stephens on January 7th, 2009 [2009] NIQB 1

An unpixelated photograph of sex murderer Kenneth Callaghan, from which he could be identified, cannot be published. Mr Callaghan has served 21 years of a life sentence and is due for supervised release, and Mr Justice Stephens ruled that the publication of such a photograph, by disrupting his supervision and support regime, would increase the risk to the public by increasing his risk of re-offending. He granted a separate order that no photograph of any prisoner in the Prisoner Assessment Unit of the Northern Ireland Prison Service could be published without 48 hours’ notice.

… Mr Justice Stephens considered the Human Rights Act 1998, incorporating the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law; the expectation of privacy as outlined in Mosley v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2008] EWHC 1777 (QB) (24 July 2008); the balancing exercise required between competing convention rights; the specific position of photographs in the media as discussed in Douglas v Hello (No 3) [2006] QB 125, [2005] EWCA Civ 595 (18 May 2005) and Von Hannover v Germany 59320/00 [2004] ECHR 294 (24 June 2004); Articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 2 (right to life) in the convention and the right to freedom of expression. He distinguished between the “wider debate” on whether or not it was right to publish detailed information about sex offenders when they are to be released into the community, as occurs in the United States under “Megan’s Law” and the “narrower debate” on the specific question of whether it was in the public interest to publish recognisable photographs of this individual.

… In conclusion, he stated that the first plaintiff did not have an expectation of privacy as far as the police, the Prison Service and the Probation Service were concerned, but did have a “residuum of privacy” and he had not consented to it being intruded upon. Referring to the issue of freedom of expression, he said: “The defendant is to be commended in relation to its stance against criminals and its desire to protect the public.” However, the proposed use of unpixelated photographs, in conjunction with articles which lack balance, “is out of proportion to the risks presently posed by the first plaintiff”. He therefore ruled that a restriction on publication of unpixelated photographs was a proportionate response and necessary in a democratic society.

Evidence on ‘safe countries’ must be considered
S (a minor) -v- Refugee Applications Commissioner Ors Judgment was delivered on November 21st, 2008 by Ms Justice Irvine [2008] IEHC 365

The applicant had established substantial grounds to assert that the respondent’s decision should be quashed due to her failure to furnish a reasoned explanation for her rejection of the independent, authoritative and up-to-date country of origin documentation submitted on the applicant’s behalf.

Age restrictions in Redress Act ‘repugnant to the Constitution’
JD -v- The Residential Institutions Redress Review Committee, Ireland and Attorney General Judgment was delivered by Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill on November 11th, 2008 [2008] IEHC 350

The definition of a “child” as under 18 year of age for the purposes of the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002 (also here) is repugnant to the Constitution. The applicant may be construed as a minor under the law prevailing in 1968 and 1969, when she was resident in St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home.

Also: Law in short; and Law to allow agencies to share files in suspected abuse cases