Right to Privacy

The appellant went to a police officer’s home on a weekday morning while the police officer was sleeping after coming off of a night shift. The appellant knocked on the police officer’s door and the police officer answered. The appellant then stood in the street playing a guitar and protesting the police officer’s role in an earlier search warrant incident. After he refused to cease, he was arrested after the arrival of other officers. The appellant challenged this, and thus the issue was whether the appellant’s fundamental right to freedom of expression afforded him greater legal weight in court than the police officer’s right to privacy.

In determining whether privacy is a “right” or a “value”, the Supreme Court of New Zealand noted that New Zealand was committed to the ICCPR. The ICCPR allows for restrictions on the freedom of expression if they are reasonable, and if the Court were to follow the ICCPR here, the appellant’s appeal could have been denied. However, the Court ruled in favor of the appellant by favoring the NZ Bill of Rights, which does not allow for such restrictions on the right to freedom of expression. Thus, the Court went above and beyond the ICCPR in providing for freedom of expression, though by doing so the right to privacy was somewhat infringed. The Court also cited the UDHR, the ECHR, the CRC, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. The Court also affirmed that there is a right to privacy in New Zealand.


The government had passed a law giving it powers to perform telephone taps. The petitioner challenged the constitutional validity of this law, as there was a risk that the government would use these powers to perform arbitrary invasions of privacy. The Supreme Court of India agreed, and held that until the government came up with procedural safeguards to protect against arbitrary and capricious searches, the safeguards laid down by the Supreme Court would be followed. In so holding, the Court cited the ICCPR.

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