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Vuckovic and others v. Serbia: is the Court getting stricter on the requirement to invoke the substance of the complaint domestically?

April 10, 2014

This guest post was written by Helena De Vylder. Helena is a Ph.D. Researcher at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University. Her research concerns admissibility criteria in regional human rights systems.

On 25 March the Grand Chamber delivered its judgment in Vuckovic and others v. Serbia. The case was initiated by 30 reservists in the Yugoslavian army against the government’s refusal to pay per diems for their work during the NATO-intervention in Serbia in 1999. The case was dismissed for reasons of failure to exhaust domestic remedies. According to the majority, the applicants failed to invoke the substance of the complaint before the Constitutional Court. The dissenters criticize robustly the formalistic approach leading to this judgment.

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Finnish journalist’s arrest, detention, prosecution and conviction for disobeying a police order during a demonstration does not violate Article 10

March 24, 2014

This guest post was written by Dirk Voorhoof*.

In the case of Pentikäinen v. Finland the European Court found that a Finnish press photographer’s conviction for disobeying the police while covering a demonstration did not breach his freedom of expression. Both the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI) have criticised the interference with the journalist’s rights and the IPI has expressed its disappointment with the judgment by the European Court for not sufficiently respecting the rights of journalists and the media to cover what is happening during public demonstrations, especially when they end up with a clash between the demonstrators and the police. The Court is not unanimous in its judgment: in a robust dissenting opinion, two judges argue that the measures against the journalist unnecessarily interfered with the right of newsgathering, protected under Article 10 ECHR. Read more…

Abdu v. Bulgaria – Yet another case of racist violence before the Court!

March 20, 2014

This guest post was written by Mathias Möschel, post-doctoral researcher at Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. (*)

Abdu v. Bulgaria deals with a fact pattern which the Court has seen many times over the past fifteen years: racist violence. Moreover, it involves a country which has also stood a number of times before the European judges for human rights violations involving either police violence (see e.g. Velikova v. Bulgaria and Ognyanova and Choban v. Bulgaria) or private violence against racial minorities (see e.g. Dimitrova and Others v. Bulgaria, Seidova and Others v. Bulgaria, and Yotova v. Bulgaria). Read more…

Poll: Best and Worst ECtHR Judgment of 2013 – The Winners!

March 18, 2014

Now that a little over a month has passed since the opening of the polls and over 250 votes have been cast, it is time to announce the winners – and ‘winners’ – in the categories of best and worst ECtHR judgment of 2013!

In the category of best judgment, celebrating the best the ECtHR had to offer in 2013, Vallianatos and Others v. Greece takes the prize with 22.5% of the vote, just ahead of Horváth and Kiss v. Hungary (17%) and Vinter and Others v. the United Kingdom (13.5%). In Vallianatos, the Grand Chamber of the Court took an incremental step towards full equality for LGBT by ruling that Contracting States that introduce a system of registered partnerships have to open that system up to same-sex couples, since barring them entails unjustified discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In the category of worst judgment, indicating that there is always room for improvement, the ‘winner’ is even clearer. By far the worst ECtHR judgment of 2013, according to the votes received, was Delfi AS v. Estonia. Delfi received an impressive 37% of the vote, double that of the second placed Animal Defenders International v. the United Kingdom (18.5%), with Bouyid v. Belgium landing a solid third place with 15% of the vote. Fortunately, this is one of those wonderful cases in which we are able to report that bad news is followed by good news, since the ‘winner’ in the category of worst judgment – Delfi - has recently been referred to the Grand Chamber, offering the Court a chance to redeem itself!

The State’s Duty to Protect Children from Abuse: Justice in Strasbourg in O’Keeffe v. Ireland

March 13, 2014

This guest post was written by Professor Ursula Kilkelly. Professor Kilkelly is Director of the Child Law Clinic at the Faculty of Law of University College Cork, Ireland (see more info below the post, at *).

On 28 January 2014, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights handed down its judgment in the case of Louise O’Keeffe and Ireland. The judgment brought to a conclusion a 15 year-long legal battle whereby the applicant – who was abused by her teacher when attending primary school in Ireland – sought vindication of her rights against the state.  It also resulted in a ground breaking judgment of the European Court which established beyond doubt that the state has a positive duty to take steps to protect children from abuse under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

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And the question still remains: when is it allowed to use tear gas or pepper spray?

March 4, 2014

This post was written by Sophie Forrez. Sophie is a Ph.D. Researcher at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University. She works on a project on the impact of the European Convention on Human Rights in the Belgian legal order in the early years of the Convention.

In two recent cases, Tali v. Estonia and Gramada v. Romania, the European Court of Human Rights dealt with the use of pepper spray and tear gas. In both cases, the Court found a violation of article 3 of the Convention. The first case concerns the use of pepper spray and the practice of strapping prisoners to a restraint bed in penal institutions. The second case deals with a police officer using tear gas and shooting the applicant in the thigh during an ordinary arrest of an individual who was on the run and took refuge in the applicant’s home. Although in both cases a violation was found, both judgments missed a perfect opportunity to create more clarity on the ground.

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Vulnerability and Economic Abuse in Domestic Violence Reasoning: T.M. and C.M. v. Moldova

February 26, 2014

T.M. and C.M. v. Moldova is one of the latest instances of domestic authorities’ passivity in protecting women against domestic violence. At the root of this passivity was a failure to understand the seriousness and extent of the problem and its discriminatory effect on women. This was reflected in misconceptions about both the nature of domestic violence and the reality of many of its victims. In dealing with this failure, the Court issues a strong judgment: (i) it reinvigorates the definition of domestic violence by renewing attention to non-physical forms, notably economic abuse and (ii) it refines the links between domestic violence victims’ vulnerability and the content of State positive obligations. Read more…

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