Oliari and Others v. Italy: a stepping stone towards full legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Europe

This guest post was written by Giuseppe Zago, Researcher of Comparative Sexual Orientation Law, Leiden University (*)

Last 21 July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Oliari and others v. Italy had once again the opportunity to analyze the status of same-sex couples wishing to marry or enter into a legally recognized partnership. This resulted in a groundbreaking judgment, with the Court asserting that the absence of a legal framework recognizing homosexual relationships violates the right to respect for private and family life, as provided by the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) in article 8.

Its relevance is twofold, as the Court poignantly plunges into the current legal situation of Italy, and at the same time builds up on the outcomes of its previous cases, Shalk and Kopf v. Austria and Vallianatos and others v. Greece, to slightly, yet significantly, extend the interpretation of the ECHR principles concerning same-sex individuals who enter stable intimate relationships.

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G.H. v Hungary: Victim Status in Cases of Forced Sterilisation

This guest post was written by Adam Weiss and Judit Geller, European Roma Rights Centre.

On 9 June 2015, a Chamber declared an application we submitted on behalf of a victim of forced sterilisation inadmissible. She had already received compensation from the domestic courts, depriving her (the unanimous Chamber found) of her victim status. You are probably thinking this is a sour-grapes blog – and of course you are right, no one likes to lose, but we’ve already let of steam elsewhere. This blog is about the legal reasoning of the judgment: if you are interested in reproductive rights, or anti-Roma discrimination, or intersectionality, read on.

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Selecting Landmark Cases

By Laura Van den Eynde, Research Fellow (F.N.R.S.) at the Center for Public Law – Université libre de Bruxelles. Lauras Ph.D. research focuses on the relationships between human rights NGOs and jurisdictions and the influences these organizations have on judicial dialogue.

This post aims at discussing a question related to case selection when conducting research. The relevance or the need to limit the number of cases to examine is particularly acute regarding the European Court of Human Rights (whose case law contains many repetitive cases). One option is to analyse ‘landmark cases’, which requires a more precise definition or at least a coherent methodology for drawing up the list of cases. Although the term is frequently used, it is often difficult to rely on a specific criterion to determine what a ‘landmark’ case is[1] and more research seems to have been conducted regarding the United States or the Court of Justice of the European Union.

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Examining Strasbourg case law and judicial behavior: a view across disciplines

By Dorothea Staes, PhD researcher at ULB and USL on the European Court on Human Rights’ references to external normative instruments to interpret the ECHR.

Legal scholars repeatedly struggle with and are criticized for methodological aspects of research design, not least when undertaking case law studies. A holistic approach to judicial decision-making – introducing extrajudicial disciplines and explanatory factors – has the capacity to enrich research methodology and substantive insights in legal phenomena. Legal scholars should be aware of the value that other disciplines might add while not losing sight of possible limits of their own methodological capacities in this respect. Continue reading

ECtHR accepts strict application of data protection law and narrow interpretation of journalistic activity in Finland

By Dirk Voorhoof, Ghent University

After proceedings at the national level during eight years, and after a preliminary ruling by the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg on 16 December 2008 (Case C-73/07), the European Court of Human Rights (Fourth section) in Strasbourg has delivered a controversial judgment in the domain of protection of personal data and data journalism. In Satakunnan Markkinapörssi Oy and Satamedia Oy v. Finland, the Court comes to the conclusion that a prohibition issued by the Finnish Data Protection Board that prohibited two media companies (further: Satamedia) from publishing personal data in the manner and to the extent they had published these data before, is to be considered as a legal, legitimate and necessary interference with the applicants’ right to freedom of expression and information.

The European Court agrees with the Finnish authorities that the applicants could not rely on the exception of journalistic activities within the law of protection of personal data. In finding no violation of the right to freedom of expression and information, the Court not only accepts a restrictive interpretation of the notion of journalistic activity, it also reduces drastically the impact of the right to information of public interest.

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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.

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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.

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