Article 30 – Right to protection of privacy

Article 30 – Right to protection of privacy

1) Member States shall ensure that competent authorities may take during the criminal proceedings appropriate measures to protect the privacy, including personal characteristics of the victim taken into account in the individual assessment provided for under Article 31 22, and images of victims and of their family members. Furthermore, Member States shall ensure that competent authorities may take all lawful measures to prevent public dissemination of any information that could lead to the identification of a child victim.

2) Member States shall ensure that personal data concerning a victim allowing the offender to identify the victim’s place of residence or to otherwise contact the victim in any way is not provided to the offender either directly or indirectly. Other personal data of the victim or their family member shall not be provided to the offender unless it is essential for the facts of the case.

3) In order to protect the privacy, personal integrity and personal data of victims, Member States shall, with respect for freedom of expression and information and freedom and pluralism of the media, encourage the media to take self-regulatory measures.

COMMENTARY – Article 30

The European Commission proposed changes to this article. Their proposal reflects the fact that personal data is routinely passed to the defence, which may put victims in further danger. The right to privacy is a fundamental human right of equal importance to the right to a fair trial. Proceedings must therefore be organised to reflect a balanced approach between both rights.

VSE supports the Commission proposal which not only upholds the right to privacy but also better protects the right to life. Nevertheless, the proposal is limited to only two forms of, rather than all, personal information. With some possible exceptions, VSE proposes extending protection to all personal data, e.g. personal information collected during the victim’s needs assessment, which is often then considered part of the case file. As, in some countries, the public have access to case files, this may be particularly harmful to victims.

VSE’s proposal changes the concept of presumption that personal data of victims is provided into one where privacy is presumed unless there are strong reasons to breach it i.e. privacy by design. This is more in accordance with the fundamental right itself and will better protect victims whilst maintaining a balance with fair trial rights principles. The proposal extends privacy protection to family members who are also placed at risk if data is revealed.