Strasbourg Observers

The Best and Worst ECtHR judgments of 2018 are…

February 25, 2019

Dear readers,

A month ago, we launched our yearly vote for best and worst ECtHR judgment of the year (for a shortlist of the candidates, see our previous blog post). Today, it is our pleasure to announce the winners.

In the category of best judgment of the year 2018, the winner is… Magyar Jeti Zrt v. Hungary!

 Magyar Jeti Zrt v. Hungary: 40.4 %

Big Brother Watch and Others v. the United Kingdom: 17.7 %

Al Nashiri v. Romania / Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania: 16.2 %

In Magyar Jeti Zrt v. Hungary, the Court granted strong Convention protection to journalists against defamation claims when hyperlinking to possibly controversial online content. By demonstrating a clear understanding of the importance of hyperlinks on the internet, it seems as if the Court has now finally entered the Digital Era. As part of the blogosphere, we from Strasbourg Observers can only applaud this step.

While Magyar Jeti Zrt won the category of best judgment by a landslide, the race in the category of worst judgment was a lot tighter. Runner-up Beuze v. Belgium, in which the Court further hollowed out the principle from the Salduz judgment, clearly amounted to a sufficiently worrisome digression of the protection level to also be worthy of recognition as worst judgment of the year. However, there can only be one winner and, evidently, the winner takes it all. We are happy to announce the winner in the category of worst judgment… Sinkova v. Ukraine!

Sinkova v. Ukraine: 26.4 %

Beuze v. Belgium: 24.3 %

Mohamed Hasan v. Norway: 13.9 %

 In the Sinkova judgment, the Court found no violation of Article 10 in a case concerning the criminal conviction of a protester for frying eggs over the eternal flame of the unknown soldier at a war memorial. By considering that the applicant had “only” been convicted on account of the frying of the eggs, rather than for expressing her views, the Court undermined the essence of the freedom of artistic protest. Unfortunately, the Court missed the opportunity to correct its error, by rejecting the request for referral to the Grand Chamber that was supported by 22 organizations involved in the protection of freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly.

Also noteworthy in the category of worst judgment is that, despite not being listed among the nominees, E.S. v. Austria still managed to obtain 5.5 % of the votes via the “Other” option.

Thanks a lot to all of you who participated in the poll! We do hope that this poll will inspire the Court in 2019 to resist populist pressure on the Convention system and to continue striving for an adequate level of human rights protection in Europe.

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