Right to protect sources is part of free expression: top European court

The Dutch government is moving to reinforce the right of journalists to protect sources
after a major ruling by the European Community’s top human-rights court. 

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that a Dutch law allowing a prosecutor to order journalists to divulge sources was in violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to free expression.

The test case concerned an order demanding that a Dutch magazine, Autoweek, hand over pictures of an illegal car race. The magazine’s editor was arrested after refusing to comply.

The Strasbourg court, ruling against the Dutch government, awarded 35,000 ($47,000 Cdn) to the magazine’s then-publishers, Sanoma Uitgevers B.V.  

In response, the Dutch justice ministry said it has prepared legislation that
will expressly allow journalists to protect sources, the BBC reports.