EIT: Norja loukkasi oikeutta yksityis- ja perhe-elämän suojaan jättäessään riittävällä tavalla informoimatta paineentasauksesta sukeltajille aiheutuvista vaaroista

13.12.2013 | Oikeusuutiset

Markku Fredman

Euroopan ihmisoikeustuomioistuin (EIT) on Norjaa vastaan antamassaan tuomiossa enemmistöäänin katsonut, että valtio oli loukannut valittajien oikeutta yksityis- ja perhe-elämän suojaan, kun valittajia ei ollut riittävällä tavalla informoitu nopeasta paineentasauksesta syntyvistä vaaroista. Tämä siitä huolimatta, että valittajille oli jo kansallisesti ainakin osittain korvauttu heille syvänmerensukelluksesta aiheutuneita vahinkoja.

EIT:n lehdistötiedotteesta:

However, the Court found it probable that the applicants’ health had significantly deteriorated as a result of decompression sickness. It was also very likely that this had been due to the use of excessively rapid decompression tables by diving companies. Indeed, following the standardisation of decompression tables by the Petroleum Directorate in 1990, significantly fewer divers had suffered from decompression sickness. Therefore, had the Norwegian authorities intervened earlier, they probably could have removed what appeared to have been a major cause of excessive risk to the applicants’ health and safety.

Since none of the applicants had been exposed to life-threatening experiences owing to any failure on the part of the State, the Court did not analyse the matter in the light of Article 2. However, it reiterated the State’s obligation under Article 8 to provide access to essential information enabling individuals to assess risks to their health and lives. It found that decompression tables could be viewed as a relevant source of information allowing divers to assess the risks to which they could have been exposed. Yet neither the Labour Inspection Authority nor the Petroleum Directorate had required diving companies to produce their decompression tables in order to assess their safety before granting them authorisation to carry out individual diving operations. As a result, diving companies had been allowed to keep decompression tables secret and to reduce decompression times for competitive purposes.

Although there had not been a scientific consensus as to the long-term effects of diving, it had also been widely acknowledged that decompression tables contained essential information for the assessment of health risks within the framework of diving operations. For instance, in a letter of June 1984 to the Diving Medical Advisory Committee, the Petroleum Directorate had expressed its concerns about the difference between the slowest and the fastest decompression tables used in the North Sea. However, the authorities had neither informed the applicants as to the possible impact of such differences nor told them their concerns as regards their health and safety. Moreover, a long period had elapsed until such time as the authorities had required oil companies to assume full openness about the decompression tables.

Considering the authorities’ role in monitoring diving operations and in ensuring their safety, as well as the lack of scientific consensus at the time regarding the long-term effect of decompression sickness, a very cautious approach should have been adopted. Indeed, the authorities should have taken steps to ensure that the applicants had received essential information regarding rapid decompression tables, thus enabling them to assess the risks to their health and safety. Had the authorities done so, they might have helped to eliminate sooner the use of excessively rapid decompression tables as a means for diving companies to promote their own commercial interest regardless of the divers’ health and safety. By failing to do so, the Norwegian authorities had not fulfilled their obligation to ensure the applicants’ right to respect for their private life, in violation of Article 8.

Koko lehdistötiedote, missä myös linkki koko tuomioon, löytyy täältä: Vilnes and others v. Norway

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