When reading news about anti-corruption investigations on official sources, you will not find the first and last name of the suspect or accused of a crime. There can only be a position mentioned, like “ex-judge of the Holosiivskyi District Court,” “ex-director of the SE Hutiansk Forestry,” etc. Why?
The names of persons involved in high-profile corruption and other cases are not disclosed, since the Constitution establishes the presumption of innocence, and the legislation guarantees the right to use name. What does it mean?
Presumption of innocence. A person is considered innocent and cannot be subject to criminal punishment until a court finds them guilty and passes a guilty verdict.
Right to use name. Everyone has the right to dispose of their name and decide whether to indicate it or not. No one can just write your first and last name, for example, on an advertising banner. It is the same in the case of mentioning a criminal offense. The Civil Code prohibits the disclosure of the name of a detainee, suspect, or accused until the guilty verdict comes into force.
If representatives of the investigation or court indicate the first and last name of, say, a person who has just been detained, then the person not only can demand to stop such a violation of their rights, but also recover moral damage through the court.
But why then do the media publish the names of the persons involved? At first glance, this contradicts the provisions of the laws of Ukraine.
However, there is a law “On Information,” which allows to disseminate information if it is socially necessary. In addition, the practice of the European Court of Human Rights and the relevant Convention recognize the right of the press to inform the public and the right of the public to receive information. It is these rights that some media outlets refer to when indicating the names of detainees/suspects/accused in their publications.
And it is worth remembering that the boundaries of one right end where the action of the other begins. Thus, the convention right to freedom of expression may be restricted if there is a threat of disclosure of confidential information, or there is a need to ensure the impartiality of justice or protect reputation.
Interestingly, in European countries, restrictions related to a person’s right to their name are interpreted more broadly than in Ukraine. In addition, they regulate cases when the right to name collides with the right of society to be informed.
For example, in Switzerland, names and personal information can be indicated if:
– a person speaks publicly in connection with an event covered by the media;
– the person concerned holds a political, senior state, or public position related to media reporting;
– the mention of the name is necessary to avoid confusion that can harm other persons;
– the mention of the name or identification data is justified by the interests that prevail in society.
Thus, anti-corruption bodies do not write the names and surnames of potential corrupt officials in their publications because they comply with the laws. The media do this by appealing to both national legislation and international treaties.
The names of persons involved in high-profile corruption and other cases are not disclosed, since the Constitution establishes the presumption of innocence, and the legislation guarantees the right to use name.