Finnish journalists Finnish media



Yet another boot-heel into the face of freedom

A real outrageous decision. If even a journalist is restricted from filming on the streets, how so for the rest of us? Yep, only the state has top exclusive privilege to film on the streets (monitor us) day and night.

1984 was not to be a training manual.

ECHR: Photographer’s arrest did not breach right to free expression

A photographer who gained a conviction after defying a police order to stop filming the 2006 ASEM protests in Helsinki has failed to win a judgment against the state of Finland. Photojournalist Markus Pentikäinen took his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after the Finnish Supreme Court denied him leave to appeal, claiming that police actions violated his freedom of expression.

Poliiseja ja mielenosoittajia Smash Asem -mielenosoituksen aikana Kiasman edustalla Helsingissä.
The Smash-ASEM demonstrations degenerated into clashes with police in 2006. Image: Marja Airio / Lehtikuva

Pentikäinen was arrested as he was working as a press photographer, covering the 2006 Smash-ASEM demonstrations for Finnish magazine Suomen Kuvalehti. Demonstrations became heated and police formed a blockade in front of the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in the city’s centre. The journalist claimed he made it clear to police that his intent was merely to document the events of the protest as a registered member of the press, however he was taken into custody alongside scores of protesters.

In December of 2007 he was convicted for disobeying police orders, with the Supreme Court denying the right to appeal in 2009. However, no entry of the conviction was made on his criminal record as no penalty was imposed, since the Court recognised his actions as excusable in light of his occupational responsibilities.

Nonetheless, Pentikäinen took the case to the ECHR, claiming that both the arrest and subsequent judgment were a breach of Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.

The Court admitted the journalist’s right to appeal, but concluded in a 5-2 ruling that there was not adequate violation of the right to freedom of expression to warrant a judgment against the state. It was noted in the judgment that Pentikäinen had been presented with alternatives, such as moving to the established press area, but that he chose to remain within the blockaded zone.

Ultimately, it was the ECHR’s opinion that Finnish courts had struck a fair balance between the conflicting duties of Pentikäinen as a photographer and as a law-abiding citizen. YLE

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