Violation of the Right to Honor
Collision between the Right to Information and the Right to Honor
In our article published on November 3, Right to Honor in current legislation, we made a general introduction on the meaning and legal connotations of the right to honor and its possible collision with other fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, information and criticism.
In practice we find that media professionals disclose or publish certain information or circumstances relating to one or more individuals, violating their right to honor.
Article 1 of the aforementioned Law establishes that the right to honor, personal and family privacy and one’s own image “shall be civilly protected against all kinds of intrusions illegitimate, in accordance with the provisions of this Organic Law”
Let us remember that honor consists of “personal dignity reflected in the consideration of others and in the feeling of one’s own person” (among other , STS Civil of 10-12-2008) and can be seen violated by the imputation of facts or the manifestations of value judgments through actions or expressions that in any way harm the dignity of another person, undermining their reputation or attempting against their own estimation (art.7.7 LO 1/1982).
In these cases we must ask ourselves in what circumstances should the right to honor prevail over freedom of information when a collision of the type occurs.< /p>
The full judgment of the Constitutional Court in its judgment of April 15, 2004, referring to numerous jurisprudence, establishes in general terms the requirements and necessary circumstances of the published information so that it does not imply an illegitimate violation of the right to honor of individuals:
- The information published must be truthful:
Regarding the veracity of the information, this Court has established a consolidated doctrine according to which this constitutional requirement «is not aimed at the demand of a rigorous and total accuracy in the content of the information, but to deny constitutional protection to those who transmit as true facts, either simple rumors, devoid of any verification, or mere inventions or insinuations without verifying their reality through the appropriate investigations typical of a diligent professional”.
According to the Constitutional Court itself, this requirement must specify that the information must have been correctly obtained and reasonably verified.
Our Supreme Court has qualified this requirement by requiring that the published information has been “duly verified or verified according to the canons of informative professionalism, excluding inventions, rumors or mere insidiousness» (Ss. T.S. 19.Jul.2004, 18.Oct.2005 and 30.Jun.2006, among others).
- Another indispensable requirement for the justification of the interference in question is that the news is of general interest, that is, related to a notorious fact with public relevance:
The criteria to be used in verifying the public relevance of the information includes both the matter or purpose of the information, which must refer to public matters of general interest that contribute to the formation of public opinion; as well as the people involved in the events reported, who must have the character of a public figure or with public notoriety.
In this sense, the Constitutional Court in numerous resolutions, among others, SSTC 172/1990 and 336/1993, has declared that literally vexatious, insulting or insulting expressions they are always outside the protective scope of the right to information, and freedom of expression and opinion, which in no case protect the right to insult.
The second point of article 9 of the aforementioned Organic Law 1/1982 contemplates a series of measures to put an end to the illegitimate interference in question. In the event of violations of the right to honor such as those analyzed here, the individual or individuals may request:
- The restoration of the injured party in the full enjoyment of their rights, with the declaration of the interference suffered, the immediate cessation of the same and the restoration of the previous state. As well as, the total or partial publication of the conviction at the expense of the convicted person with at least the same public dissemination as the interference suffered.
- Compensation for damages caused.
In relation to the quantification of the damage caused, the jurisprudence (among others, the Sentence No. 419/2014 of the Supreme Court of July 21, 2014) has established as weighting criteria:
- The circumstances of the case and the seriousness of the injury actually produced.
- Taking into account, where appropriate, the dissemination or audience of the medium through which it occurred.