Security and Duty of Protection

Segerstedt-Wiberg and Others v Sweden, 6 June 2006 [ECtHR]

Case no 62332/00

105.  The applicants complained that, in so far as the storage of secret information was used as a means of surveillance of political dissidents, as was particularly noticeable with regard to the first and fourth applicants, it entailed a violation of their rights under Article 10 of the Convention ...

They further complained that, for each of them, membership of a political party had been a central factor in the decision to file secret information on them. This state of affairs constituted an unjustified interference with their rights under Article 11 ...

106.  The Government argued that no separate issues arose under either Article 10 or Article 11 in the circumstances of the present case in so far as the first, second, fourth and fifth applicants were concerned. They had not been the subject of personnel security checks. The information on them held by the Security Police was apparently never consulted by third parties. In fact, it seemed only to have been released to the applicants themselves following their own requests for access. Furthermore, their suspicions that the Security Police were holding information on them – suspicions that were confirmed when information was indeed released to them – appeared not to have had any impact on their opportunities to exercise their rights under either Article 10 or Article 11. They had at all times been free to hold and express their political or other opinions. It was not supported by the facts of the present case that their opportunities to enjoy freedom of association had in any way been impaired. Therefore, the Government maintained that there had been no interference with their rights under Articles 10 and 11 and requested the Court to declare their complaints under these provisions inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded.

107.  The Court, for its part, considers that the applicants’ complaints under Articles 10 and 11, as submitted, relate essentially to the adverse effects on their political freedoms caused by the storage of information on them in the Security Police register. However, the applicants have not adduced specific information enabling it to assess how such registration in the concrete circumstances could have hindered the exercise of their rights under Articles 10 and 11. Nevertheless, the Court considers that the storage of personal data related to political opinion, affiliations and activities that is deemed unjustified for the purposes of Article 8 § 2 ipso facto constitutes an unjustified interference with the rights protected by Articles 10 and 11. Having regard to its findings above under Article 8 of the Convention with regard to the storage of information, the Court finds that there has been no violation of these provisions with regard to the first applicant, but that there have been violations of Articles 10 and 11 of the Convention with regard to the other applicants.

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Criticism Physical attacks Pressure by private bodies Surveillance