“Good things come to those who wait…” © Photo: Mark Kehoe
Article 37 of the Portuguese Constitution
(Freedom of Expression and Information)
1. Everyone has the right to freely express and divulge his thoughts in words, images or by any other means, as well as the right to inform others, inform himself and be informed without hindrance or discrimination.
2. Exercise of these rights may not be hindered or limited by any type of censorship.
3. Infractions committed in the exercise of these rights are subject to the general principles of the criminal law or the law governing administrative offences, and the competence to consider them shall pertain to the courts of law or an independent administrative respectively, as laid down by law.
4. Every natural and legal person shall be equally and effectively ensured the right of reply and to make corrections, as well as the right of compensation for damages suffered.
The Portuguese Supreme Court upheld the previous Appellate Court Decision on behalf of Dr. Gonçalo Amaral! After much water had flown under the bridge it turned out “the Portuguese Constitution was not-for- sale”. (quote).
The Court’s adroit view was, that given a conflict between the right to honour of one party (good name and reputation) and the right to freedom of opinion and expression of another, the determinant criteria ought to be subordinated to the interests of each side – bearing in mind the “principle of proportionality” and the “specificity” of each case.
In this particular case, the “freedom of expression” of the defendant (Dr. Gonçalo Amaral – a criminologist) deserved greater protection than the “honour” of the plaintiffs. In other words, Dr. Amaral’s rights pre-excluded the unlawfulness of any potential injury to the honour of the McCanns’.
Furthermore, the counsellor judges decided that Dr. Gonçalo Amaral informed views were not necessarily abusive in the context of his constitutional freedoms. His views (based on the very findings of the police investigation which he coordinated) were perfectly acceptable in a modern European democracy (such as the one in vigor in Portugal).
Details to follow at Gonçalo Amaral’s “Project Justice” blog.
Incidentally, one or two (“politically-incorrect”) comments elsewhere caught our attention, and we quote:
“And so, as it turned out, the Portuguese Constitution was not for sale! The Mammonites lost! Many, many of us who have been with you all the way would love to hug you now in celebration! At long last the nightmare is over – for you and your (often forgotten) family .
But in terms of “reputation management” is not over yet! Let us not forget British creativity. A Scotland Yard operation in the style of “Mincemeat” (1943) is still possible for we all know what can be done (and undone) with DNA samples. Ask FSS (Birmingham) but I digress! O povo unido jamais será vencido!“ (*)
(*) Meaning “A united people can never be defeated” (after the famous poem by Sérgio Ortega Quilapayun) which become a catch phrase from Portugal’s 1974 Revolution that overthrew the former dictatorship and during which Portugal’s actual Constitution was drafted and rights – such as “freedom of opinion” – are enshrined.
And so, in the end ” The McCanns with all their money, friends in high places, government support, expensive “top-dog” lawyers, and reputation management experts – such as Clarence Mitchell, Burson-Marsteller and Lift Consulting – were unable to send the Portuguese Constitution to the recycle bin. Well done Portugal!” (quote).