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Belgium violated the ECHR by extraditing a terrorist to the USA despite an interim measure by the Strasbourg Court: Trabelsi v. Belgium

September 12, 2014

The Trabelsi case is noteworthy for two reasons. Firstly, because of the blatant disregard by Belgium of the interim measure issued by the European Court of Human Rights. Secondly, because of the application of the reasoning from Vinter v. UK – in which the Court found that life without parole is incompatible with Article 3 ECHR – to the context of extradition proceedings. The Court finds that the applicant’s extradition by Belgium to the USA, where he ran the risk of being convicted to life without parole and despite an interim measure to the contrary, was in violation of Articles 3 and 34 ECHR. This blog post will first highlight the latter violation, before questioning the Court’s reasoning with respect to the former one.

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Landmark European Court Decision Sends Clear Message on Ending Impunity for European Complicity in CIA Torture

September 10, 2014

This guest post was written by Amrit Singh. Amrit Singh is Senior Legal Officer for National Security and Counterterrorism at the Open Society Justice Initiative and acted as counsel in al Nashiri v. Poland.

In the woods, about 160 kilometres north of Warsaw, in a village called Stare Kiejkuty, sits a Polish intelligence base that was used during World War II by German intelligence officials and later by the Soviet military. More recently, during 2002 and 2003, in a joint operation with the Polish authorities, the CIA secretly imprisoned, tortured and ill-treated Abd al Rahim al Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah on that base. There, in a secluded villa hidden from sight, CIA interrogators subjected our client, al Nashiri, to mock executions while he stood naked and hooded before them; to painful stress positions that nearly dislocated his arms from his shoulders; and to threats of bringing in his mother to sexually abuse her in front of him.

On July 24, 2014, the European Court of Human Rights became the first Court to adjudicate through two cases–al Nashiri v. Poland, and Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland–the flagrant rule of law violations associated with this joint operation.

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Occupational Health in the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights: Brincat v. Malta

September 8, 2014

This guest blog post was written by Elena Sychenko, Ph.D. student at the University of Catania, Law Faculty, Labour Law Department.

On 24 July, the European Court of Human Rights announced its judgment in Brincat and Others v. Malta (the Brincat case).[1] This case was the result of 21 applications of former workers of the public ship repair yard exposed to asbestos. The Government of Malta was held responsible for breaching its positive obligations to protect the rights to life and the right to respect for private life. A violation of the right to life was found where the death of the employee was the result of exposure to asbestos. Where employees had suffered from different diseases, the Court found a violation of the right to respect for private and family life.

Brincat is a landmark case for Occupational Health in all the countries of the Council of Europe. For the first time, the Court found violations of two rights deduced from articles 2 and 8 that are fundamental to this sphere: the right to access information concerning risks the employee is exposed to and the right to protection from dangerous industrial activities. Read more…

Seminar Announcement: Law’s Imagining of Religion

September 2, 2014

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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The multifaceted and crucial role played by NGOs at the European Court of Human Rights

August 4, 2014

This guest post was written by Laura Van den Eynde, Doctoral Researcher at Université libre de Bruxelles. (*)

On 17 and 24 July 2014, the European Court of Human Rights decided three cases, one against Romania concerning the death of a mentally disabled and HIV-positive young Roma and two other cases against Poland concerning the detention and transfer of terrorist suspects who were subjected to torture.[1] Beyond the fact that the cases involve particularly shocking human rights violations and that the judgments are quite long, what else would they have in common? As will be demonstrated hereunder, these cases would not have been decided – or decided with that information at hand – if there hadn’t been civil society organizations caring to denounce and document the human rights violations at stake. Read more…

M.E. v. Sweden: Back to The Closet

July 28, 2014

This guest post is written by Sander Steendam.

 

In M.E. v. Sweden, the fifth section of the Strasbourg Court has ruled that requiring aliens to temporarily return to their home country and hide their sexual orientation pending family reunion is not a violation of article 3 of the Convention (prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment).

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

July 16, 2014

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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