Statement of FAMU Ombudswoman
The situation that we are currently experiencing at FAMU is, at both the legal and the ethical levels, a conflict between two basic rights: the right to the protection of privacy and correspondence, and the right to the freedom of expression and the dissemination of information. Both rights are of a fundamental importance for a democratic society and I understand how important they are for the life of each individual. However, there is no generally valid rule that would determine which if the two rights has priority. Ever interference in the mentioned rights must be evaluated individually and taking into account the specific circumstances and overall context. The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic has repeatedly ruled that one of the rights cannot be unjustifiably prioritised over the other. At the time that a conflict between two basic rights is evaluated, the factors that play a role include the content of the statements themselves, the position of the author, the time at which they are made, and the consequences of their publication.
From the human rights perspective, it is impossible to accept the argument that the email correspondence between FAMU staff members cannot, under any circumstances, be the subject of a democratic discussion about the ethical culture on academic soil. If I disregard the fact that this discussion is already taking place at several levels (including the media level), I consider it crucial that the subject of the published correspondence concerned various methods and processes that substantially pertain to a public university, many of its employees who are paid from public funds, and not less importantly also its students. I am convinced that these circumstance are a legitimate reason for conducting a discussion about the obtained information, as in this case public interest outweighs private interest. I cannot even imagine any other approach on the common path to a healthy and respectful environment.
For the sake of completeness, I would like to add that the significance and meaning of the protection of privacy and email correspondence will be sufficiently dealt with by the relevant state authorities, external to FAMU, who, within the scope of their legal competence, will investigate the behaviour that encroached on the rights of the participants in the communication.