Lithuanian Court of Appeals agreed with arguments of lawyer Tadeusz Gudzińśki representing Wilnoteka on behalf of the European Foundation of Human Rights and upheld the verdict announced on 22nd December 2011 by the Vilnius County Administrative Court (for more information see http://www.efhr.eu/2011/12/23/the-court-rescinded-the-inspector‘s-penalty-for-wilnoteka-pl/?lang=en). Giving the ruling, the Court overruled the decision of the Inspector of Journalists’ Ethics who had imposed a penalty on the web portal for publishing the article “In defence of Polish schools in Lithuania.” The Court announced that while making the decision the Inspector violated the main principles of the procedure which were to ensure objective appraisal of circumstances and legitimacy of the decision.
The complaint about the web portal was filed by Kazimieras Garšva, the president of “Vilnija” Association who accused “Wilnoteka.lt” of misleading society about the actual state of Polish education in Lithuania and stirring up national feuds. In the article “Wilnoteka.lt” published an open letter and a petition submitted to the Lithuanian and Polish authorities by Forum of Parents from the Polish schools in Lithuania. Wilnoteka provided the letter and the petition with its own commentary and editors’ opinion and also called for signing the open letter. The Inspector decided that Wilnoteka violated the journalists’ ethics by presenting the information in a partial and superficial way as well as by omitting the arguments in support of the amendment to the Lithuanian educational law.
The European Foundation of Human Rights, which from the very beginning defended the rights of “Wilnoteka.lt” within the programme of Legal Aid Centre, is satisfied with the fact that the decision of the Inspector of Journalists’ Ethics was overruled and that the sanctions resulting from the decision were lifted – penalty of admonition for a breach of journalists’ ethics. The Inspector’s Office is also obliged to pay Wilnoteka court costs amounting 100 lt.
The verdict proves that it is worth claiming one’s rights in courts. ETPC (European Court of Human Rights) expects the Inspector of Journalists’ Ethics to reject Kazimierasa Garšva’s complaint; however, it is afraid that the Inspector will make another decision unfavourable to “Wilnoteka.lt.”
The European Foundation of Human Rights