Friday
October 24, 2014

Justices seem unable to agree

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Search engines and ‘dignified death’ divide S. Court

By Luciana Bertoia
Herald Staff
Two discussions are now causing division within the Supreme Court: “dignified death” and search engines.

All the members of the Court were yesterday present at their weekly meeting at the central courthouse, except for Justice Enrique Petracchi.

They discussed a case that reached the highest tribunal in April after Attorney-General Alejandra Gils Carbó considered that a man who had been in a vegetative state since 1994 when he suffered a car crash should be disconnected from life-support mechanisms. A year later, doctors considered that he could not recover.

Gils Carbó makes reference to the accountant as M.A.D not to reveal his name, though there are several websites which reveal his name and ask the judges not to order to disconnect him as his sisters requested when the man’s parents passed away.

“This is a very difficult case,” one of the justices told the Herald. Sources from the highest tribunal made it clear that it is not a case of euthanasia, linked to the idea that someone helps another person to die in order to put an end to pain. In this case, the man keeps on living due to the artificial assistance he receives.

“We are not discussing the medical aspect of the case, which is absolutely clear,” a source said. Forensic surgeons established that his case was not reversible. The debate by the justices is focussed on whether to disconnect the man. The members of the court are also divided on the issue of whether the man’s sisters have legitimacy to file the request.

In 2012, a law to regulate cases of serious illnesses in which extending life is a way to extend agony was passed by the national Congress. According to that legislation, if the person cannot give his or her consent, those who can are his or her closest relatives.

Search engines

The other case that is causing disagreement between the justices relates to search engines. For that case, the Supreme Court carried out a public hearing, the same strategy followed last year with the Media Broadcast Law, making it clear that it was an important issue for the country’s highest tribunal.

Over the past four months, justices have been discussing the responsibility of search engines in a case involving a fashion model who accuses the most important search engines of negatively affecting her career. In 2006, model María Belén Rodríguez filed a complaint against Yahoo and Google for linking her name with porn websites, explaining that the situation affected her career and her personal life. A first instance court agreed with her and sentenced the two companies to pay 120,000 pesos. However, an appeals court overturned the ruling and said that the links should not be removed. Prosecutor Laura Monti issued her opinion before the court, saying that search engines cannot be held responsible for the websites that show up in their pages.

During the public hearings, justices asked the fashion model’s lawyers if they wanted to put an end to search engines or to block all the contents related to their client. Justices also wanted to know if there was a mechanism to erase contents when a person files a complaint upset with information affecting his or her personal image. Those issues are part of the discussion the justices will continue next Wednesday, when they are scheduled to meet again.

@lucianabertoia

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