Mandet v. France: Child’s “duty” to know its origins prevails over its wish to remain in the dark

By Evelyn Merckx, academic assistant and doctoral researcher at the Human Rights Centre (Ghent University)

The European Court of Human Rights has delivered many judgments about a child’s right to know its origins and whether this right can prevail over the refusal of the anonymous biological parent. In Mandet v. France, the opposite scenario took place. A presumed biological father wanted to have his paternity recognised vis-à-vis a child who already had a legal and social father and asked the judges not to change his established family ties. However, the domestic courts decided that it was in the son’s best interests that he knew the truth about his origins.

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L.E. v. Greece: Human Trafficking and States’ Positive Obligations

By Vladislava Stoyanova, Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Law, Lund University, Sweden. Author of Human Trafficking and Slavery Reconsidered. Conceptual Limits and States Positive Obligations in European Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016 forthcoming)

Against the backdrop of the rich judicial output of the ECtHR, the case law under Article 4 of the ECHR is scarce. This is more than surprising against the backdrop of ample empirical evidence showing that migrants, including sex workers, are subjected to severe forms of exploitation in Europe (see, for example, the report by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency published in 2015 Severe Labour Exploitation: Workers Moving within or into the European Union. States’ Obligations and Victims’ Rights). To be more precise, the existing judgments in which the Court has dealt with abuses inflicted by non-state actors (i.e. employers) reaching the level of severity of Article 4 are five:[1] Siliadin v. France, Rantsev v. Cyprus and Russia, C.N. and V. v. France, C.N. v. The United Kingdom and M. and Others v. Italy and Bulgaria (the complaint under Article 4 was found inadmissible in this case). On 21 January 2016, the ECtHR delivered L.E. v. Greece, which is the sixth judgment in this context. It is an important judgment not only because it is a positive step for remedying the above mentioned dearth of judicial engagement with exploitation of migrants in Europe, but also because it raises some intriguing questions about positive obligations under the ECHR. In this note, I will cover some of these.

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Farewell to Marckx and all that or how I received ‘the letter’ (from the registry of the European Court of Human Rights)

This guest post was written by Dr. Başak Çalı, Director, Center for Global Public Law and Assoc. Prof. of International Law, Koç University Law School, Istanbul.

It is not common to receive a letter from the registry of the European Court of Human Rights. At least, for me it’s not. I was excited to receive mine. I was excited to open it. Unfortunately, this excitement quickly turned into sadness and disappointment. My hero had let me down. My hero had let down thousands of women of Turkish nationality.

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Poll: Best and Worst ECtHR Judgment of 2015

Following an annual and cherished tradition, we are hereby launching our poll for the best and worst ECtHR judgment of 2015!

As usual, preselecting a limited number of contenders was both fun and hard. There is always room for debate. Always other judgments that deserve a shot at the title. Other judgments to cheer at. And other judgments to boo (somewhat). But we hope you find your champ among our contenders. If not, you can always support an underdog by selecting ‘Other’.

The winners and losers will be announced in about a month.

To refresh your memory on the nominated judgments – or introduce you to them – we have included brief summaries below the polls (click ‘Continue reading’, immediately below the polls).

[the order of judgments in both polls is automatically randomised on each page visit]

SUMMARIES OF JUDGMENTS

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No obligation on States to recognize a marriage contracted abroad: the case of Z.H. and R.H. v. Switzerland

Guest post by Sanne Konings, Stafmedewerker Familiaal Internationaal Privaatrecht, Agentschap Integratie en Inburgering.

On 8th of December 2015 the European Court of Human Rights pronounced a judgment in the case of Z.H. and R.H. v. Switzerland. The main question was if the Swiss authorities violated the right to respect of family life under article 8 European Convention of Human Rights of the applicants by not recognizing their religious marriage and removing the second applicant to Italy while the first applicant was allowed to stay in Switzerland.

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Cengiz and Others v. Turkey: a tentative victory for freedom of expression online

By Marina van Riel, Resident Fellow, Open Society Justice Initiative, New York (*)

On 1 December 2015, the European Court of Human Rights released a judgment in the case of Cengiz and Others v. Turkey. The main question put before the Court was whether the blocking of the popular video-sharing website YouTube constituted a violation of users’ Convention rights. Having first established the victim status of the applicants, the Court went on to find a violation of their right to receive and impart information under Article 10 ECHR.

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Face veils in Strasbourg (bis): the Belgian cases

By Eva Brems

In the Grand Chamber judgment of SAS v France (2014) the European Court of Human Rights held that France’s ban on face covering in public could be justified under article 9 ECHR as a proportionate measure for the aim of guaranteeing ‘le vivre ensemble’ (living together). Given the storm of protest that this judgment raised among human rights scholars and activists, it may be of interest to note that the second section of the Court recently communicated two applications against the Belgian face covering ban. Indeed, about one year after France adopted its ban, Belgium did the same. Belgium and France are the only two countries that have adopted a general ban on face covering in public (local or regional bans exist in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Switzerland). In Belgium, the nationwide ban was preceded by municipal bans, that continue to be enforced alongside the criminal ban.

While it is unlikely that the Court would overrule a recent and unanimous Grand Chamber judgment, it is not excluded that it might take this opportunity to explain and possibly nuance some of the statements it made in SAS.

The Human Rights Centre of Ghent University submitted a third party intervention in one of the Belgian cases.

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