Decision of the ECHR of 21 February 2017 in the case of Rubio Dosamantes v. Spain (application No. 20996/10).
In 2010, the applicant was assisted in the preparation of the application. Subsequently, the application was and communicated to Spain.
In the case, the complaint on the comments disseminated in television broadcasts concerning aspects of the applicant's personal life was successfully considered. The case involved violations of the requirements of Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicant was a professional pop singer. Various television programs have commented on some aspects of her personal life, especially her sexual orientation or her allegedly violent relationship with a partner, including the allegation that she humiliated him and encouraged the use of drugs.
At the Court, the applicant complained that these comments violated her right to respect for her reputation and her personal life.
ISSUES OF LAW
Concerning compliance with Article 8 of the Convention.
(a) Contribution of television programs to a discussion of common interest, and fame of the person concerned. The domestic courts established their decisions solely on the fact that the applicant was a famous singer. The fact that she was a widely known public figure did not mean that her activities or behavior in private life should be considered relevant to public interest. Television programs did not have a public interest that could justify disclosure, despite the applicant's notoriety, since the public did not have a legitimate interest in knowing about some of the intimate details of her personal life. The guests of the program mentioned and discussed only the personal life of the applicant. Any public interest accompanying the commercial interest of television channels was outweighed by the applicant's individual right to effective protection of her personal life.
(b) The applicant's conduct before the broadcast of the contested television programs. The remarks made by the defendants in the three television programs, in the opinion of the first instance court, did not violate the applicant's right to respect for her private life, as they affected aspects of her life that were already in the public domain, and the applicant herself had not previously objected to their disclosure.
Commentators only talked about rumors that circulated in Latin America for a long time. This information was distributed by many media sources, and there were widespread reports of comments and opinions of third parties regarding the applicant's private life. The fact that the applicant could benefit from media attention did not authorize these television channels to distribute unverified and unlimited comments about her personal life.
(c) The content, form and consequences of the contested television programs. Even though the case was reconsidered in the ordinary appeal, in cassation and the Constitutional Court, the courts of the respondent Government limited themselves to stating that the allegations of alleged homosexuality or bisexuality of the applicant did not cause harm in themselves and were not claimed to have incited her former roommate to the reception of drugs, but it was only reported that their turbulent private life was the reason for taking drugs and that the applicant herself did not deny certain well-known rumors about her personal life. On the one hand, as a result of their direct and constant contact with the situation in the country, domestic courts are often in a better position than an international court to assess the intentions of the authors of such comments and the goals of television programs, as well as the potential reactions to these comments among the general public. On the other hand, there is no such analysis in the decisions made in the case, and the courts of the country did not compare these rights and interests carefully to determine whether the "restriction" imposed on the applicant's right to respect for her private life was established in a convincing manner. The domestic courts only concluded that the comments did not affect the applicant's honor. They did not consider the criteria that should be taken into account for a fair assessment of the balance between the right to respect for their freedom of expression and the right to respect for the applicant's private life.
Finally, the grounds indicated by the courts of the respondent State were not sufficient to protect the applicant's private life, and in the circumstances of the case she had to have a "legitimate expectation" of her protection.
In view of the foregoing and the limits of discretion enjoyed by domestic courts in comparing different interests, they did not fulfill their positive obligations under Article 8 of the Convention.
The violation of the requirements of Article 8 of the Convention (unanimously) was committed.
In the application of Article 41 of the Convention. The claim for damages was not raised.