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Amicus curiae brief filed as court considers lifting reporter’s privilege

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Regional Court in Poznań to address a motion for a waiver of the reporter’s privilege invoked by journalist Piotr Żytnicki, which was issued by the Circuit Prosecutor’s Office in Poznań on 19 September 2018.

The HFHR referred to national and international standards for the protection of the reporter’s privilege, as well as recalled the scope of such protection and grounds for waiving the privilege. The Foundation also described how the international standards may apply to Mr Żytnicki’s case.

In the brief, the HFHR noted that a waiver of the reporter’s privilege may be granted only in cases that involve the offences referred to in Article 240 of the Polish Criminal Code. Moreover, as it was pointed out in the brief, the grounds for the waiver given in the prosecution’s motion were exceptionally broad and general. The motion failed to indicate a single circumstance that would justify the need to take evidence from the journalist’s testimony.

The reporter’s privilege should be waived only in exceptional situations where it is not otherwise possible to obtain information about certain facts. Given that the proceedings to which the motion pertains have already progressed to the trial stage, the prosecution’s motion should have shown why the facts cannot be established in another way.

The brief was prepared by Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska and Konrad Siemaszko as part of a project of legal aid for journalists and bloggers financed by Media Legal Defense Initiative.

The amicus curiae brief is available for reading here.

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