New ECSR decision on conscience-based refusals protects women’s right to access abortion

Guest post by Katrine Thomasen, Legal Adviser for Europe, Center for Reproductive Rights. The Center for Reproductive Rights together with the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) submitted joint observations to the ECSR regarding the complaint.

The European Committee of Social Rights (Committee) recently rejected a complaint filed by the Federation of Catholic Families in Europe (FAFCE) against Sweden that claimed health professionals are entitled to deny women legal abortion services based on claims of personal conscience. In dismissing each one of FAFCE’s claims, the Committee reaffirmed women’s right to access reproductive health services and upheld Sweden’s robust legal and policy framework that protects these rights. The decision reinforces previous jurisprudence from the European Court of Human Rights that women’s access to reproductive health care may not be jeopardized by health care professionals’ personal refusals to provide relevant services.

Continue reading

A.S. v. Switzerland: missed opportunity to explain different degrees of vulnerability in asylum cases

By Salvo Nicolosi and Ruth Delbaere (Ghent University)

In the recent judgment of last 30 June 2015 in A.S. v. Switzerland, the European Court of Human Rights offers another occasion to reflect on the issue of vulnerability in asylum cases.

The ruling represents another episode of the ongoing saga concerning the Dublin System to determine the State responsible for asylum applications and builds upon the previous case law relating to Article 3 considerations when expelling seriously ill persons, on the one hand, and when deporting asylum seekers to another country, pursuant to Dublin II Regulation 343/2003 (now replaced by Dublin III Regulation 604/2013), on the other hand. Both lines of reasoning will be taken into account in the following analysis.

Continue reading

From Therapeutic Abstention to the Right to Die? The Case of Lambert and Others v. France

This guest post was written by Konstantin Tretyakov, S.J.D. at Harvard Law School.

On June 5th, 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR) delivered its judgment in the case of Lambert and Others v. France. The case was about end-of-life decision-making on behalf of a persistently incompetent patient (Vincent Lambert, a French citizen) who was in a vegetative state and had to be artificially fed and hydrated through a gastric tube. The controversy arose with respect to the removal of that tube, which would result in the patient’s starvation, dehydration, and, ultimately, death: while some of the patients’ relatives (parents, half-brother and sister) wanted him to be kept fed and hydrated, his other relatives (wife and nephew) and caring physicians wanted the nutrition and hydration to be discontinued.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading