“The media’s right to freedom of expression is thus not just (or even primarily) for the benefit of the media: it is for the benefit of the public” (Extract from SCA judgment below)
The Henri van Breda criminal trial is the latest high-profile case to have gripped the public’s imagination, and the media broadcasts and livestreaming from the Court have played a significant part in that.
But there are potentially competing rights at play here – the rights of witnesses to privacy and security, the accused person’s right to a fair trial, the media’s right to freedom of expression and to publish information, and the public’s right to receive information and to see what’s happening in our criminal justice system.
How do our courts balance those rights?
At the start of the van Breda trial the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) laid down these guidelines for trial courts to follow –
Applying those principles, the High Court later denied Mr. van Breda’s application to bar the broadcast of his evidence but left the door open for a future application “at any stage should the need arise”.
Expect to see cameras in a lot more high-profile criminal trials in future.
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