The Best and Worst ECtHR judgments of 2018 are…

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.

4 thoughts on “The Best and Worst ECtHR judgments of 2018 are…

  1. […] Legal Human Academy, together with Greenpeace International, the Human Rights Centre of the University of Gent, and the Open Society Justice Initiative, has been supporting a request to refer the case of Sinkova v. Ukraine to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. A joint letter of support has been endorsed by 22 organizations involved in the study, protection, or exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly, such as Article 19, MLDI, European Centre for Non-for-Profit Law, Centre for Law and Democracy and Freemuse. The case involves a member of an artistic group (Anna Olegovna Sinkova), who fried eggs over the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Kyiv. The performance was filmed and posted online as an act of peaceful protest against an aspect of the government’s policy. Sinkova was arrested for desecrating the tomb, held for three months in pre-trial detention, and sentenced to three years in prison, suspended for two years. In its judgment of February 27, 2018, the European Court of Human Rights held, by four votes to three, that there had been no violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression (see also our blog on Strasbourg Observers).  On 2 July 2018 however, the panel of the Grand Chamber has rejected all 15 pending requests for referral, including the request in the case Sinkova v. Ukraine. On 25 February 2019 the judgment in the case of Sinkova v. Ukraine won the Strasbourg Observers’ ‘prize’ for the worst judgment of the ECtHR in 2018. […]

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