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CfH Lectures


3 February 2011

Wikileaks and the Law: Press Freedom According to the European Court of Human Rights

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Jasper Sluijs’s lecture is preceded by a lecture by Marta Zarzycka.

The actions of the online whistleblower platform wikileaks have stirred up a lot of controversy lately. Wikileaks’ disclosure of the Iraq war logs and US diplomatic cables have also polarized discussions on the trade-off between press freedom and public safety concerns, protection of sources and responsibilities of journalists. At the same time, both amongst journalists and the general public there appears to be uncertainty about the legal status of whistle blowing and reporting of confidential information. In this lecture and seminar Jasper Sluijs discusses the legality of wikileaks according to the standards of the highest authority on human rights in Europe, the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), enforced by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg. In the lecture he focuses on press freedom according to the ECHR, which shall then be applied in practice during the seminar by means of a moot court case. Participants either argue a hypothetical case as a plaintiff or defendant before the ECtHR, or decide the case as ECtHR judges. Through the moot court, they are able to have a better understanding of the legal status of press freedom, source protection and journalistic responsibilities in Europe. On a more theoretic level, this lecture and seminar allows participants to reflect on the role of the press in a democratic society.

This lecture was given within the framework of the 2011 School of Critical Theory organized by the Centre for the Humanities in Utrecht. The programme was titled ‘G-local Cosmopolitanism: The Social Responsibility of the Artists, the Academics, and the Media’, and offered trans-national and interdisciplinary approaches drawn from the humanities, social sciences, law, philosophy and international relations. Its focus on the development of cross-national European perspectives in these areas, allows for the innovative use of key notions of cosmopolitanism across different national, cultural and disciplinary traditions. The school consisted of three clusters, which focused on Cosmopolitanism and the social responsibility of the Artists, Cosmopolitanism and the social responsibility of the Academics, and Cosmopolitanism and the social responsibility of the Media.