Family Visits for Life Prisoners: Khoroshenko v Russia

Guest post by Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou (University of Surrey) and Filippo Fontanelli (University of Edinburgh)

On 30 June 2015, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the case Khoroshenko v. Russia. With this decision, the Court set the boundaries of State regulation in the area of penitentiary policy, namely with respect to the right to family life of lifelong prisoners. The Court has often declared that Contracting Parties enjoy a broad margin of appreciation in this area, yet the margin has limits: the Court has recently taken upon it the task to map them. The judgment of Khoroshenko v. Russia, indeed, fits within a recent strand of the case law through which the Court has scrutinised the condition of incarceration of prisoners for life.

The applicant is serving a life sentence in Russia. Generally, all prisoners in Russia can receive short- and long-term family visits. For prisoners serving life terms, instead, the law prohibits long-term visits for the first decade of imprisonment (the ‘blanket ban’). Long-term visits last up to three days and can be unsupervised; short-term visits last up to four hours, they always take place under the supervision of guards and in rooms set up to exclude all physical contact with visitors (including sexual intimacy). Mr Khoroshenko challenged before the ECtHR the blanket ban that he endured from 1999 to 2009, invoking Articles 8 and 14 of the ECHR.

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Delfi AS v. Estonia: Grand Chamber confirms liability of online news portal for offensive comments posted by its readers

By Dirk Voorhoof, Ghent University

On 16 June 2015 the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has delivered the long awaited final judgment in the case of Delfi AS v. Estonia, deciding on the liability of an online news portal for the offensive comments posted by its readers below one of its online news articles. The Grand Chamber has come to the conclusion that the Estonian courts’ finding of liability against Delfi had been a justified and proportionate restriction on the news portal’s freedom of expression, in particular because the comments in question had been extreme and had been posted in reaction to an article published by Delfi on its professionally managed news portal run on a commercial basis. Furthermore the steps taken by Delfi to remove the offensive comments without delay after their publication had been insufficient and the 320 euro award of damages that Delfi was obliged to pay to the plaintiff was by no means excessive for Delfi, one of the largest internet portals in Estonia.

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The Court’s Approach in Y. v. Slovenia, Annotated

By Corina Heri

This guest post was written by Corina Heri, Ph.D. researcher at the University of Zürich, Switzerland, and visiting researcher at the Human Rights Centre, Ghent University.

On the 28th of May, the Fifth Section of the Strasbourg Court issued its judgment in Y. v. Slovenia. The judgment in the Y. case ties in to some of the criticism recently formulated by Yaiza Janssens on this blog concerning the I.P. v. the Republic of Moldova case. While noting the novelty of the Court’s approach under Article 8 in Y., the present contribution will point out some remaining room for improvement in the Court’s approach to sexual violence-related cases.

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Adžić v. Croatia: The difficult task that child abduction brings

This guest post was written by Thalia Kruger, Senior Lecturer, Research Group Personal Rights and Real Rights, University of Antwerp and Honorary Research Associate, University of Cape Town.

Adžić v. Croatia is yet another case in the long row of cases about international parental child abduction that hit the role of the European Court of Human Rights. These cases pose a particular challenge to the Court in a very difficult and sensitive domain of family law. Jurists and lawyers in various fora have attempted to find workable solutions by instruments such as the Hague Child Abduction Convention of 1980, the Council of Europe Custody Convention (Luxembourg, 1980), the Brussels II bis Regulation (2201/2003) in the EU, and national legislation. Mediators try to find appropriate ways in which to resolve child abduction issues.

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“A great victory for the whole legal profession”

by Inger Høedt-Rasmussen (Copenhagen University) and Dirk Voorhoof (Ghent University)

The Grand Chamber in its judgment of 23 April 2015 in the case of Morice v. France has overruled an earlier finding of non-violation of the right to freedom of expression of a lawyer (Chamber judgment Fifth Section, 11 July 2013). The Grand Chamber found that the applicant lawyer in the newspaper Le Monde had expressed value judgments with a sufficient factual basis and that his remarks concerning a matter of public interest had not exceeded the limits of the right to freedom of expression. Therefore it considered the lawyer’s conviction for defamation of two investigative judges as a breach of Article 10 of the Convention. The Grand Chamber’s judgment defines in an interesting way the role and responsibilities of lawyers in relation to society and in relation to their clients and to the administration of justice. It emphasises that lawyers, although being in a role that differs from the role of journalists, should be able to draw the public’s attention to potential shortcomings in the justice system. In a first reaction in Le Monde, Morice (the applicant) called the judgment “une grande victoire pour l’ensemble de la profession des avocats”.

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S.J. v. Belgium: missed opportunity to fairly protect seriously ill migrants facing expulsion

This guest post was written by Sarah Ganty, Ph.D. student at the Institute for European Studies and at the Faculty of Law (Perelman Centre for Legal Philosophy) of the ULB within the Research project ARC “Sous le signe du mérite et de la conformité culturelle, les nouvelles politiques d’intégration des immigrés en Europe”. See also the post she wrote for the Blog of the Berkeley Journal of International Law.

On March 19, 2015, the Grand Chamber (GC) of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) struck out of its list the sensitive case of S.J. v. Belgium on the basis of the friendly settlement between the Belgian Government and the applicant, S.J, mother of three children, who suffers from an advanced stage of AIDS and faced expulsion. Indeed, the Belgian Government ultimately regularized the residency status of the applicant and that of her three children, justified by the “strong humanitarian considerations” of their situation.

Why then write this note on a case that was not eventually ruled on the merits by the GC of the Court and where the outcome looks like a “happy ending”? Continue reading

The Y.Y. v. Turkey case and trans individuals’ gender recognition

This guest post was written by Ivana Isailovic, post-doc researcher at the Perelman Center (Université libre de Bruxelles) and affiliated to the IAP, Human Rights Integration project.[1]

The Y.Y v. Turkey decision deals with the process of gender recognition, which is one of the many pressing legal issues trans[2] communities are struggling with in Europe. In its previous decision, the European Court of Human Rights has found that the State’s failure to modify the birth certificate of a person by recognizing the preferred gender constitutes a violation of the right to private life guaranteed by art. 8. For the first time, in Y.Y. v. Turkey, the Court examines the domestic requirements ­– in this case the sterilization requirement – which are necessary to obtain the legal recognition of the preferred gender.

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