Court: Camera surveillance of Montenegro lecture halls violated professors’ privacy

Today, human rights judges ruled that the camera surveillance of lecture halls at a Montenegro university violated professors’ right to privacy.

In its judgment in the case of Antović and Mirković v. Montenegro (application no. 70838/13) the European Court of Human Rights held:

by four votes to three, that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

As Just satisfaction (Article 41), the court held by four votes to three that Montenegro was to pay the applicants 1,000 euros (EUR) each in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 1,669.50 in respect of costs and expenses.

The case concerned an invasion of privacy complaint by two professors at the University of Montenegro’s School of Mathematics, Nevenka Antović and Jovan Mirković, after video surveillance had been installed in areas where they taught. They stated that they had had no effective control over the information collected and that the surveillance had been unlawful.

The domestic courts rejected a compensation claim however, finding that the question of private life had not been at issue as the auditoriums where Ms Antović and Mirković taught were public areas.

The Court first rejected the Government’s argument that the case was inadmissible because no privacy issue had been at stake as the area under surveillance had been a public, working area.

The court noted that it had previously found that “private life” might include professional activities and considered that was also the case with Ms Antović and Mr Mirković. Article 8 was therefore applicable.

On the merits of the case, it found that the camera surveillance had amounted to an interference with their right to privacy and that the evidence showed that that surveillance had violated the provisions of domestic law. Indeed, the domestic courts had never even considered any legal justification for the surveillance because they had decided from the outset that there had been no invasion of privacy.

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