Judgement ND and NT v Spain: on the legality of police “push-backs” at the borders and, again, on the prohibition of collective expulsions.

By Prof. Dr. David Moya, Constitutional Law Department of the University of Barcelona, Migration Research and Studies Centre CERM, Public Law Observatory IDP

Last week, the 3rd Section of the European Court of Human Rights published its Judgement ND and NT v. Spain, in a case brought before the Court by two foreigners from Mali and the Ivory Coast (Mr. ND and Mr. NT) who alleged to have been “pushed back” by the Spanish gendarmerie Guardia Civil in charge of the surveillance and protection of the Spanish border between the Spanish Autonomous City of Melilla and the Kingdom of Morocco. The applicants alleged that the push-back violated their right to an effective remedy (Art. 13 ECHR) and the prohibitionof collective expulsions (Art. 4 Protocol 4 ECHR). Continue reading

Robust protection of journalistic sources remains a basic condition for press freedom

By Dirk Voorhoof, Human Rights Center UGent, Legal Human Academy and member of the European Center for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

In the judgment in the case Becker v. Norway the ECtHR showed once more its concern about the importance of the protection of journalistic sources for press freedom and investigative journalism in particular. The ECtHR emphasised that a journalist’s protection under Article 10 ECHR cannot automatically be removed by virtue of a source’s own conduct, and that source protection applies also when a source’s identity is known. The judgment has been welcomed by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), as it is perceived “to strengthen the protection of journalistic sources as one of the basic conditions for media freedom”. The EFJ also calls on states “to adopt legislation with the purpose of implementing journalists’ right to protect their sources, following international standards” and strongly calls for a broad and effective protection of whistleblowers. Continue reading

Age and Gender Discrimination: Laudable Anti-Stereotyping Reasoning in Carvalho Pinto v. Portugal

Those interested in stereotyping and intersectional discrimination might not want to miss the Court’s judgment in Carvalho Pinto de Sousa Morais v. Portugal. The compensation awarded domestically to a 50-year-old woman who could not have sexual relations after a failed operation was reduced, partly, because of age and gender stereotypes. After rejecting the use of gender stereotypes of women as primary child-carers in Konstantin Markin v. Russia, the Court now condemns the use of stereotypes about female sexuality in domestic judicial reasoning. In this post, I briefly discuss two points the judgment made me think about: the need for comparison in discrimination cases and implicit stereotyping.

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New Book: When Human Rights Clash at the European Court of Human Rights – Conflict or Harmony?

We are pleased to announce the recent publication of When Human Rights Clash at the European Court of Human Rights: Conflict or Harmony? by Oxford University Press (Stijn Smet and Eva Brems, eds). The volume tackles both the existence and resolution of human rights conflicts at the ECtHR. It contains contributions by Samantha Besson, Eva Brems, Leto Cariolou, Ian Leigh, Javier Martínez-Torrón, Dolores Morondo Taramundi, Russell Sandberg, Stijn Smet, Sébastien Van Drooghenbroeck, Dirk Voorhoof and Lorenzo Zucca. In the book’s first part, contributors propose a range of general approaches to human rights clashes. In its second part, they engage in concerted scholarly debate about four leading ECtHR judgments on human rights conflicts: Axel Springer AG v. Germany; Evans v. The United Kingdom; Fernández Martínez v. Spain; and Eweida v. The United Kingdom.

This is the volume’s description:

The notion of conflict rests at the heart of the judicial function. Judges are routinely asked to resolve disputes and defuse tensions. Yet, when judges are called upon to adjudicate a purported conflict between human rights, they face particular challenges and must address specific questions. Some of these concern the very existence of human rights conflicts. Can human rights really conflict with one another, in terms of mutual incompatibility? Or should human rights be interpreted in harmony with one another? Other questions concern the resolution of real conflicts. To the extent that human rights do conflict, how should these conflicts be resolved? To what extent is balancing desirable? And if it is desirable, which understanding of balancing should judges employ? This book seeks to provide both theoretical and practical answers to these questions. It debates both the existence and resolution of human rights conflicts, in the specific context of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. The contributors put forth principled and pragmatic arguments and propose theoretical as well as practical approaches, whilst firmly embedding their proposals in the case law of the European Court. Doing so, this book provides concrete ways forward in the ongoing debate on conflicts of rights at Europe’s human rights court.

Readers of the Strasbourg Observers Blog can use promotional code ALAUTHC4 to receive a 30% discount when ordering the book directly from the OUP website (only for individual (non-trade) customers; limit of ten copies; valid until 31 December 2017).

The subscription of Belgium to Strasbourg in detention cases: Rooman v. Belgium & Tekin and Arslan v. Belgium

By Rebecca Deruiter – PhD Researcher, Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy (IRCP), Ghent University[1]

Two rulings convicted the Belgian state for violating Article 3 in the case of Rooman v. Belgium and Article 2 in the case of Tekin and Arslan v. Belgium. Both these cases concern mentally-ill offenders for which the Belgian state already has a deplorable reputation. These judgments reveal, once again, structural problems which are still present in the Belgian penitentiary system: the lack of (after)care for mentally-ill offenders and the inadequate training of prison staff. Continue reading

Medžlis Islamske Zajednice Brčko v Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Simple Speech Case Made Unbelievably Complex?

By Stijn Smet, Melbourne Law School. Stijn is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the ARC Laureate Program in Comparative Constitutional Law and co-editor with Eva Brems of the new volume When Human Rights Clash at the European Court of Human Rights: Conflict or Harmony? (OUP, 2017)

Imagine, if you will, two scenarios. The first involves four NGOs writing a private letter to the highest authorities of a Bosnian city. “According to our information”, the NGOs state in the letter, the newly appointed Serbian director of a public radio station has displayed a problematic attitude towards Muslims and Bosniacs. Her past actions, the NGOs claim, “absolutely disqualify” her from being director of a multi-ethnic radio station. The NGOs further press upon the authorities the “hope that you will react appropriately”. It turns out, however, that the factual allegations made in the NGOs’ letter are all incorrect or (grossly) exaggerated.

Now picture the second scenario: the very same letter is published in three daily newspapers.

Both scenarios seem rather different. It would make sense, then, to apply distinct free speech standards to both. They might even call for opposite solutions. Not so, says the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR in Medžlis Islamske Zajednice Brčko and Others v Bosnia and Herzegovina. In a complex judgment marked by contorted reasoning, the Court equates NGOs to the press. The Court also suggests that it ultimately does not matter all that much whether wrong factual allegations are made in private letters or disseminated publicly. Continue reading