Seminar Announcement: Law’s Imagining of Religion

The Strasbourg Observers are back from a summer break with an exciting announcement: the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University organizes a seminar entitled “Law’s Imagining of Religion: A Debate across Disciplines.” The seminar will bring together religion and legal scholars from Canada, Europe and the United States, including Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Cecile Laborde, Helge Arsheim, Malcolm Evans, Lori G. Beaman, Susanna Mancini, Solange Lefebvre, Mark Hill, Meadhbh McIvor and Lourdes Peroni.

WHEN: 23 September 2014

WHERE: Ghent University’s Faculty of Law, Voldersstraat 3, 9000 Ghent

WHAT: Speakers will address questions such as: Are the notions of religion underpinning the law inclusive enough to attend to today’s diversity of religious ways? If not, can and should these notions be legally “stretched” so as to become more responsive to such diversity? The morning sessions will focus on how law, including human rights law, understands and should understand religion. The afternoon sessions will focus on the ways in which the European Court of Human Rights conceives of and should conceive of religion. Scholars presenting in the afternoon will unpack the notions of religion underlying high-profile freedom of religion judgments (including S.A.S. Lautsi, Eweida and Bayatyan) and examine the extent to which these notions attend and should attend to applicants’ religious experiences.

A limited number of places are still available. Attendance is free, but registration is required. If you would like to attend this seminar please send an email to Lourdes Peroni at hrcevent@ugent.be.

This is the program:

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Mennesson v. France and Labassee v. France: Surrogate motherhood across borders

This guest post was written by Liesbet Pluym, PhD candidate at Ghent University.

Surrogate motherhood is a complex phenomenon which can lead to many different human right questions: would the absolute prohibition of surrogacy in domestic laws be in accordance with the right to respect for private and family life (art. 8 ECHR)? If it is legally regulated, would e.g. the exclusion of gay couples be in breach with article 8, 14 ECHR? Would denying maternal rights to the surrogate mother and not giving her a right to reconsider her decision once the child is born, be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights?

The application of international private law rules also leads to uncertainty concerning the compatibility with human right treaties en declarations. The cases of Mennesson v. France and Labassee v. France concerned the French refusal to grant legal recognition in France to parent-child relationships that had been legally established in the United States between children born as a result of surrogacy treatment and the couples on whose request the treatment was performed. The European Court of Human Rights held that there had been a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, in particular the children’s right to respect to private life ⎼ but no violation of the right of the children or intented parents to respect of family life.

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Vuckovic and others v. Serbia: is the Court getting stricter on the requirement to invoke the substance of the complaint domestically?

This guest post was written by Helena De Vylder. Helena is a Ph.D. Researcher at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University. Her research concerns admissibility criteria in regional human rights systems.

On 25 March the Grand Chamber delivered its judgment in Vuckovic and others v. Serbia. The case was initiated by 30 reservists in the Yugoslavian army against the government’s refusal to pay per diems for their work during the NATO-intervention in Serbia in 1999. The case was dismissed for reasons of failure to exhaust domestic remedies. According to the majority, the applicants failed to invoke the substance of the complaint before the Constitutional Court. The dissenters criticize robustly the formalistic approach leading to this judgment.

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Finnish journalist’s arrest, detention, prosecution and conviction for disobeying a police order during a demonstration does not violate Article 10

This guest post was written by Dirk Voorhoof*.

In the case of Pentikäinen v. Finland the European Court found that a Finnish press photographer’s conviction for disobeying the police while covering a demonstration did not breach his freedom of expression. Both the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI) have criticised the interference with the journalist’s rights and the IPI has expressed its disappointment with the judgment by the European Court for not sufficiently respecting the rights of journalists and the media to cover what is happening during public demonstrations, especially when they end up with a clash between the demonstrators and the police. The Court is not unanimous in its judgment: in a robust dissenting opinion, two judges argue that the measures against the journalist unnecessarily interfered with the right of newsgathering, protected under Article 10 ECHR. Continue reading

Poll: Best and Worst ECtHR Judgment of 2013 – The Winners!

Now that a little over a month has passed since the opening of the polls and over 250 votes have been cast, it is time to announce the winners – and ‘winners’ – in the categories of best and worst ECtHR judgment of 2013!

In the category of best judgment, celebrating the best the ECtHR had to offer in 2013, Vallianatos and Others v. Greece takes the prize with 22.5% of the vote, just ahead of Horváth and Kiss v. Hungary (17%) and Vinter and Others v. the United Kingdom (13.5%). In Vallianatos, the Grand Chamber of the Court took an incremental step towards full equality for LGBT by ruling that Contracting States that introduce a system of registered partnerships have to open that system up to same-sex couples, since barring them entails unjustified discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In the category of worst judgment, indicating that there is always room for improvement, the ‘winner’ is even clearer. By far the worst ECtHR judgment of 2013, according to the votes received, was Delfi AS v. Estonia. Delfi received an impressive 37% of the vote, double that of the second placed Animal Defenders International v. the United Kingdom (18.5%), with Bouyid v. Belgium landing a solid third place with 15% of the vote. Fortunately, this is one of those wonderful cases in which we are able to report that bad news is followed by good news, since the ‘winner’ in the category of worst judgment – Delfi - has recently been referred to the Grand Chamber, offering the Court a chance to redeem itself!

Poll: Best and Worst ECtHR Judgment of 2013

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.

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