Huwebes, Marso 1, 2012

Right to Privacy is Not Absolute

          The right to privacy is the right to be let alone, in the absence of some "reasonable" public interest in a person's activities, like those of celebrities or participants in newsworthy events. Invasion of the right to privacy can be the basis for a lawsuit for damages against the person or entity violating the right. ([i]
          Right to privacy, as a constitutional right, can be invoked most of the time, if not always. This is because there are certain circumstances that right to privacy may no longer be fully granted to a person, such as when he submits to the jurisdiction of a court wherein confidential facts may inevitably be disclosed before the court and the public. Thus, such basic right is observed differently with respect to all court cases and rape cases.

          Generally, the complainant and, sometimes, the defendant, as in the case of counterclaim, voluntarily seek the aid of the court to settle their disputes. Therefore, it is but a logical consequence that they should be willing to reveal pertinent facts, despite confidential in nature,  to settle the case with truth.  Moreover, they should have anticipated public exposure to a great extent since they are dealing with a government institution.. After the Supreme Court has finally determined the controversy, the usual course of putting on record all facts of the case, specifically the name or identity of the parties,  must be recorded on the Supreme Court Reports Annotated (SCRA), a public document which is and should be open to public for inspection.

          Public document refers to a state paper, or other instrument of public importance or interest, issued or published by authority of congress or a state legislature. Also any document or record, evidencing or connected with the public business or the administration of public affairs, preserved in or issued by any department of the government. (Ilammatt v. Emerson. 27 Me. 335, 40 Am. Dec. 59S)[ii]

          On the other hand, rape cases treat right to privacy with more gravity. Humanitarian sense dictates
that what could be more humiliating for both the rape victim and convict to have their real names revealed in public documents, which is accessible to the public. The disgrace felt by both parties during the trial is already embarrassing. What more the unwarranted revelation of their true identities on public documents like SCRA? Definitely very degrading. Thus, the enactment of Section 5 of Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998, which shall protect the privacy, specifically the real name and identity, of both the rape victim and the convict.

          Section 5 of the, stipulates that "any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial of a complaint for rape, the police officer, the prosecutor, the court and its officers, as well as the parties to the complaint shall recognize the right to privacy of the offended party and the accused." It further states that a police officer, prosecutor or court may order a closed-door investigation, prosecution or trial and that the name and personal circumstances of the offended party and/or the accused, or any other information tending to establish their identities, and such circumstances or information on the complaint shall not be disclosed to the public.

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