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Poll: Best and Worst ECtHR Judgment of 2013

February 12, 2014

Following the success of last year’s poll on the best and worst ECtHR judgment of 2012, we are hereby inviting all our readers to vote for the new edition: the best and worst ECtHR judgment of 2013. The poll is intended as a celebration of the best the ECtHR had to offer in 2013, but also as a reminder that it sometimes failed to effectively protect the Convention’s human rights.

To guide the process, we have taken the liberty of proposing a preliminary selection of candidates in each category (listed in reverse alphabetical order). However, feel free to indicate your preferred – or despised – alternative judgment by selecting the option “Other”. We will have access to the names of the judgments entered and will regularly post an update on the votes for “Other” in the comments section.

And now, here are the nominees in the categories of best and worst ECtHR judgment of 2013:

 

 

 

A brief summary of the nominated judgments follows below. A link to a blog post on each judgment is also offered, providing further insights into the reasons for its nomination.

 

Nominees for best judgment

 

Vojnity v. Hungary

This Chamber judgment dealt with the Hungarian State’s refusal to grant the applicant custody over and access rights to his son for reasons to do with the applicant’s  religion. The Chamber judgment is nominated for best judgment because it recognises religion as a ‘suspect ground’ for the purposes of application of article 14 ECHR, insisting that States must give “very weighty reasons” if they wish to justify discrimination on the basis of religion. For more, see our post here.

Vinter and Others v. the United Kingdom

This Grand Chamber judgment dealt with the issue of life imprisonment without parole in the United Kingdom. The judgment of the Grand Chamber is nominated for best judgment because it emphasises the rehabilitative purpose of imprisonment and recognises that imprisonment without any chance of parole, and thus without hope, contravenes article 3 ECHR. For more, see Natasha Holcroft-Hemmes’ post on the Oxford Human Rights Hub blog here.

Vallianatos and Others v. Greece

This Grand Chamber judgment dealt with the issue of same-sex partnership in Greece. The judgment of the Grand Chamber is nominated for best judgment because, in finding a violation of article 14 juncto article 8 ECHR, the Court takes steps towards full equality for LGBT persons. The Court specifically rules that when States introduce a system of registered partnerships, they have to open this system up to same-sex couples. For more, see Paul Johnson’s post on the ECHR Blog here and our post here.

Söderman v. Sweden

This Grand Chamber judgment dealt with the Swedish State’s failure to protect a minor against her stepfather filming her naked. The judgment of the Grand Chamber is nominated for best judgment because it ‘overrules’ the Chamber’s reliance on a “significant flaw” test in determining whether the State had fulfilled its positive obligations under art. 8 ECHR. Unlike the Chamber, the Grand Chamber ensures effective protection of the minor applicant’s right to private life. For more, see our post here.

I.B. v. Greece

This Chamber judgment dealt with the issue of HIV-based employment discrimination. The Chamber judgment is nominated for best judgment because, in finding a violation of article 14 juncto article 8 ECHR, the Court sends a strong message about the harms of HIV-based stigma and discrimination in the private sphere. For more, see our post here.

Horváth and Kiss v. Hungary

This Chamber judgment dealt with the issue of de facto segregation of Roma children in Hungarian schools, as a result of biased intelligence tests misleadingly suggesting the children had mental disabilities. The Chamber judgment is nominated for best judgment because, in finding a violation of article 14 juncto article 2 of Protocol 1 ECHR, the Court clarifies that States are under a positive obligation to undo a history of racial segregation in special schools. For more, see our post here.

Eweida and Others v. the United Kingdom

This Chamber judgment dealt with the issue of manifestation of freedom of religion in the employment context. The parts of the Chamber judgment setting out the general principles and applying them to the case of Ms. Eweida are nominated for best judgment, because they reject the ‘freedom to resign’ argument in freedom of religion cases, thereby explicitly ‘overruling’ earlier case law of the Court and Commission. For more, see our post here.

 

Nominees for worst judgment

 

S.H.H. v. the United Kingdom

This Chamber judgment dealt with the UK authorities’ refusal to grant asylum to a severely disabled refugee from Afghanistan. The Chamber judgment is nominated for worst judgment because, in applying N. v. the United Kingdom instead of M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece, the Court focuses excessively on the mode of State responsibility at play, while neglecting the particular vulnerability of the applicant, as well as the form and source of the harm he suffered. For more, see our post here.

Delfi AS v. Estonia

This Chamber judgment dealt with the Estonian courts’ ruling that one of the country’s largest Internet news portals was liable for defamation for grossly insulting remarks published by its readers in the comments section below a published news article. The Chamber judgment is nominated for worst judgment because, in finding no violation of article 10 ECHR, the Court puts an unreasonable burden on entities providing news services on the Internet. For more, see our post here.

Bouyid v. Belgium

This Chamber judgment dealt with the issue of slaps given by Belgian police officers to two persons – one of which a minor – during their questioning at the police station in relation to trivial affairs. The Chamber judgment is nominated for worst judgment because, in finding no violation of article 3 ECHR, the Court lowers the standards of protection provided by the absolute prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. For more, see our post here.

Berisha v. Switzerland

This Chamber judgment dealt with the Swiss authorities’ refusal to grant residence permits to the applicants’ three children, who were born in Kosovo and had entered Switzerland illegally. The Chamber judgment is nominated for worst judgment because it fails to present a thorough and satisfactory analysis of the best interests of the children. In finding no violation of article 8 ECHR, the Court punishes the children – several of which (young) minors – for their parents’ wrongdoing. For more, see our post here.

Animal Defenders International v. the United Kingdom

This Grand Chamber judgment dealt with the blanket ban on political advertising in the United Kingdom, as applied to an advertising campaign by an animal rights organisation. The judgment of the Grand Chamber is nominated for worst judgment because, in upholding the blanket ban, the Court unduly rejects the possibility of utilising less restrictive alternatives, fails to take into account the specific nature of the speech at issue and deviates from its earlier case law in VgT Verein gegen Tierfabriken v. Switzerland and TV Vest As & Rogaland Pensjonistparti v. NorwayFor more, see our post here.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2014 11:40 am

    Eligible votes for “Other” judgments:

    Worst judgment

    – Perinçek v. Switzerland (3 votes).
    – Maktouf and Damjanović v. Bosnia and Herzegovina (1 vote).
    – Janowiec v. Russia (1 vote).
    – Söderman v. Sweden (1 vote).
    – B. v. Romania (No. 2) (1 vote).
    – Vallianatos and Others v. Greece (1 vote).
    – Ertuş v. Turkey (1 vote).
    – X. and Others v. Austria (1 vote).

    Best judgment

    – Valiulienė v. Lithuania (2 votes).
    – Suso Musa v. Malta (1 vote).
    – Węgrzynowski and Smolczewski v. Poland (1 vote).
    – Oleksandr Volkov v. Ukraine (1 vote).
    – Janowiec v. Russia (1 vote).
    – Animal Defenders International v. the United Kingdom (1 vote).
    – Mehmet Şentürk et Bekir Şentürk v. Turkey (1 vote).
    – Benzer and Others v. Turkey (1 vote).

  2. Lukasz Kudlicki permalink
    March 19, 2014 3:48 pm

    I hope Janowiec vs. Russia will be on top of the worst judgment list. Soon.

  3. March 20, 2014 4:46 pm

    Something interesting – and a bit bizarre – has happened to the above polls.

    Presumably due to a debate on Facebook, we have seen a massive influx of votes for Janowiec and Others v. Russia in recent days. In Janowiec, the Grand Chamber declined to consider the applicants’ procedural art. 2 complaints regarding the 1940 Katyń massacre, because the substantive events had taken place prior to the adoption of the ECHR. Interestingly, the judgment has received a wealth of votes in both the category of best judgment AND worst judgment. If we were to take all those votes into account (which we won’t, because the polls have been closed), the Grand Chamber judgment in Janowiec – not even nominated – would easily have taken the prize in both categories!

    A similar campaign, but on a smaller scale, appears to have been set up to raise new votes for Horváth and Kiss v. Hungary. That judgment now holds the second highest number of votes (well behind Janowiec) in the category of best judgment. Once again, since the polls have been closed we will not be adapting the ‘official result’.

    This just goes to show that the power of social media – also on a relatively insignificant poll on an academic blog – should not be underestimated…

  4. Eva permalink
    March 21, 2014 4:08 am

    The worst decision by far was one concerning Janowiec vs. Russia. Members of families of the Polish officers murdered by Soviet Russians in Katyn and elsewhere (some 21,000 murders in this affair alone) sued Russia for pain and suffering incurred by the families. They lost. The Russians could afford the best lawyers, the survivors of Soviet murders lived in poverty for half a century. For the Tribunal to decide against them and in favor of Russia shows that the rich and powerful can influence even this august body.

  5. jcieszkowska permalink
    March 22, 2014 5:54 pm

    Janowiec v. Russia was the worst judgment in the court history, invited criminal putin to continue invasion on Europe. We see this consequences in Georgia, Moldova and most of all annexation of Crimea and invasion on Ukraine.

Trackbacks

  1. Poll: Best and Worst ECtHR Judgment of 2013 – The Winners! | Strasbourg Observers

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