January 15, 2013
To start off 2013, we are organising a poll to celebrate the best and recall the worst the ECtHR jurisprudence had to offer in 2012. We are inviting all readers to vote for what they consider to be the best and the worst ECtHR judgment of 2012, in the two polls below.
We have nominated five judgments in each category (ranked alphabetically). You can find a short summary of each judgment below, as well as the reasons for its nomination and links to our blog post(s) on the case.
If you do not find your own preferred judgment among our nominees, you can select the option “other” and write the name of the judgment (for the detailed results under “other”, see the comments at the bottom of this post). If you choose to suggest an alternative, we kindly invite you to motivate your choice by writing a comment to this post (comments are moderated; please only submit one and wait for us to clear it).
For an overview of the nominees, click on “Read more”
The Grand Chamber clarifies the balancing exercise to be conducted when freedom of expression and the right to protection of reputation conflict. We nominate this judgment for recognising that both rights in conflict deserve equal respect and for clearly outlining the relevant criteria of the balancing exercise. For more details, see our post on the judgment here.
El-Masri v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
The Grand Chamber’s judgment is the first judicial opinion to thoroughly deal with extraordinary rendition. We nominate this judgment for its strong condemnation of extraordinary renditions and for its emphasis on the importance of knowing the truth (even if somewhat ambivalent on the existence – or not – of a separate ‘right to truth’). For more details, see our post on the judgment here.
Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy
The Grand Chamber holds that interceptions at sea as practiced by the Italian authorities to prevent immigration are illegal. We nominate this judgment because both in the admissibility phase and in the judgment itself the Grand Chamber responds to the difficulties faced by irregular migrants. We applaud the fact that, despite all the pressure on the Court, it holds fast to the idea that irregular migrants have human rights too. For more details, see our posts on the judgment here and here.
The Grand Chamber holds that it is discriminatory to refuse parental leave to military servicemen when such leave is available for servicewomen. We nominate this judgment because of its strong gender analysis, especially for the way the Grand Chamber addresses gender stereotypes. For more details, see our post on the judgment here, and our Human Rights Centre’s amicus brief here.
Yordanova and Others v. Bulgaria
The Court rules that the forced eviction of a group of Roma from a piece of State-owned land on which they had lived for decades, would constitute a violation of Article 8. We nominate this judgment because of the Court’s outstanding Article 8 proportionality analysis. The Court really shows domestic courts how the analysis ought to be done; taking due notice of the social position of the Roma group in question. For more details, see our post on the judgment here.
The Grand Chamber rules that “kettling” (cordoning off a section of the public space to contain a large group of people for security reasons) is in conformity with the Convention. We nominate this judgment for holding that the “kettling” measure at issue did not constitute deprivation of liberty and for explicitly recognising that the Convention can be interpreted to provide less protection (‘involutive’ interpretation). For more details, see our posts on the judgment here and here.
The Court rules that the inability for a lawyer to celebrate religious holidays due to a conflict with scheduled court hearings does not interfere with his freedom of religion. We nominate this judgment because the Court summarily dismisses the applicant’s claim at the interference stage and fails to consider the option of reasonable accommodation, instead putting all responsibility with the applicant. For more details, see our post on the judgment here.
The Grand Chamber, while formally upholding the Hirst principles on prisoners’ voting rights, modifies the manner in which those principles operate. We nominate this judgment because the Grand Chamber appears to yield to political pressure, ‘softening’ the requirements of the Hirst principles, and because it creates room for inconsistent outcomes in future cases. For more details, see our post on the judgment here.
The Court ‘upholds’ the criminal conviction of a police trade union leader for having posted critical and offensive comments on the union’s website. We nominate this judgment for arbitrary regulating “the legitimate scope of trade-union related activities” and for drastically curbing trade union freedom of expression for certain professions. For more details, see our post on the judgment here.
Van der Heijden v. the Netherlands
The Grand Chamber holds that it is no violation of the Convention to refuse testimonial privilege (the right not to testify against one’s family member or partner) to unmarried and unregistered partners. We nominate this judgment for many reasons: the Grand Chamber’s proportionality analysis that leaves out the impact on the individual’s rights and instead balances two public interests against each other; the Court’s formalism that puts legal categories instead of people first; and the Court’s refusal to analyze the case under Article 14. For more details, see our posts on the judgment here and here.
The option “other” does not seem to be working entirely as it should: while the number of votes for “other” do appear in the list of results, the indicated “other” judgments do not appear by name. As administrators, we do have access to them though. We will put them here, in the comments section. We will try to update the list of “other” judgments as frequently as possible.
“Other” judgments votes:
Kurić and others v. Slovenia: 2 votes.
Pop Blaga v. Romania: 1 vote.
Fernandez Martinez v Spain: 1 vote.
Redfearn v. the United Kingdom: 1 vote.
Janowiec and Others v. Russia: 1 vote.
Mouvement Raëlien Suisse v. Switzerland: 5 votes.
Berladir and others v. Russia: 2 votes.
Meirelles v. Bulgaria: 1 vote.
Stübing v. Germany: 1 vote.
Costa and Pavan v. Italy: 1 vote.
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Hi, my name is Krassimir Kanev. I am Chairperson of the Board of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the NGO which offered legal asistance to the applicants in the Yordanova case. This case is really strategic. Immediately after the announcement of the judgment, the mayor of Sofia declared that she will not undertake evictions in the future without ensuring alternative accommodation. A few months later, when she had to remove a Roma settlement, similar to the one in Batalova Vodenitsa, she made sure that every family got a municipal appartment. It has to also be taken into consideration that in this case the Court indicated interim measures to stop the eviction in 2008, an unprecedented move.
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