Her Stepfather Filmed Her Undressing - RightsInfo

This case took place in Sweden but it shows how powerful human rights law can be in closing loopholes in snooping laws.

Eliza Söderman was 14 years old when she discovered that her stepfather had hidden a video camera in the laundry basket in the bathroom and recorded her undressing before taking a shower. Immediately afterwards, the film was burned without anyone seeing it. Criminal proceedings were brought against the stepfather and Eliza brought a claim for damages in compensation for breach of her personal integrity, and for pain and suffering, which was joined to the criminal case. The stepfather was found not guilty and so she lost the damages claim. Eliza complained that Sweden hadn’t complied with its obligation to provide her with remedies against her stepfather’s breach of her personal integrity.

The European Court of Human Rights found that Sweden had broken the law. People could be protected from acts between individuals that might breach their psychological integrity by either the criminal law or by non-criminal law remedies. In Eliza’s case, Swedish law hadn’t guaranteed protection of her right to respect for private life in a way that complied with Sweden’s obligations, because in the specific circumstances, no remedies existed under Swedish law that protected Eliza. That was for reasons including that, in Sweden, it wasn’t illegal to film another person without their permission.

Shortly after the judgment was given, a then Minister of State for Justice stated in the House of Lords that the UK government had no plans to introduce new laws because of the European Court’s judgment.  But it is likely that the existing UK law would have protected Eliza under both the criminal and non-criminal law anyway. The UK’s common law system would allow the judge a bit more discretion to adapt the laws than Sweden’s system, which depends more on Parliament’s law.

This story is a short summary of a legal decision. You can read the full text here

Media Coverage of this story

Her Stepfather Filmed Her Undressing
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