When asked by the Czech TV what is the worst feature of the new “gagging law” (media law) directed at the Czech media, I said that it is the fact that it makes journalists much more vulnerable due to uncertainty of how this law is going to be applied. And that proved to be the case.
I have spent a month consulting with private and Government lawyers and the most striking feature is how much they differ in their opinion on many issues.
And the quality of the advice! Consider:
One Government Department wrote: The question which interest will prevail (interest to be informed or interest to protect privacy) has to be considered in each specific case taking into account all key aspects, such as the reason for publishing the information, method used to publish as well as the results expected or achieved by the publication….. Each specific case of publication has to be considered in the context of general principles of law, Charter of basic rights and freedoms (which as part of the Constitution stands above any regular Act of Parliament) and in agreement with decisions by the Constitutional Court and European Court for Human Rights.
So now, finally, I have an answer for my photographer asking me whether it is legal to photograph people in a riot.
“Well,” I am supposed to tell him, “my legal advice is that before you press the shutter, you need to consider several decisions of the Constitutional Court and a certain court in Strasbourg, you will then need to consult the Constitution and general principles of law. Yeah I know you are a photographer and you studied colour gamuts and aperture and stuff like that… but this is my legal advice. Otherwise it is up to five years in prison or up to five million crowns in fine or both. For both of us, my friend.”