Migrants’ avoidance of the European Court of Human Rights concerns us all

By Marie-Bénédicte Dembour, Professor of Law and Anthropology at the Brighton Business School, University of Brighton (*) This post has been re-published on When Humans Become Migrants Blog.

Every year towards the end of January, the President of the European Court of Human Rights holds a press conference that takes stock of the previous year. This year, President Raimondi reported in his speech that the situation of the Court was ‘generally satisfactory’. Can we be so sure?

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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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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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Case of Roman Zakharov v. Russia: The Strasbourg follow up to the Luxembourg Court’s Schrems judgment

By Paul De Hert and Pedro Cristobal Bocos (Vrije Universiteit Brussels)

The judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Roman Zakharov v. Russia last December 4, 2015 is part of the growing concern that some international human rights protection bodies have developed in the area of digital rights. This has been reflected at the European level with the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union that cancels the Safe Harbor decision – Maximillian Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner – and the European Parliament resolution of 29 October on the mass surveillance of European citizens that recognizes, among other things, the important role played by Edward Snowden. The case comes also amid the growing concern of the United Nations (UN) on the matter that has resulted in resolution 68/167 of the General Assembly, in the reports and remarks of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), for example in September 2013 and in February 2014, and in the creation in July 2015 of a special rapporteur on the right to privacy.

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