Recognizing the right to conscientious objection – Part I – correcting a mistake

In the Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Bayatyan v. Armenia the Court recognized a right to conscientious objection under Article 9. The first step in doing so was to correct a mistake started by the European Commission of Human Rights (Commission) regarding the interpretation of Article 9 in conjunction with Article 4. Continue reading

Khodorkovskiy in a cage

In the case of Khodorkovskiy v. Russia the Court reaffirmed that placing a person in a cage during a trial if the person is not predisposed to violence or there are no serious security threats, is degrading and violates Article 3.

The Court noted that the practice of placing a criminal defendant in a sort of a “special compartment” in a court room existed and probably continues to exist in several European countries (Armenia, Moldova, Finland). In some countries (such as Spain, Italy, France or Germany) the accused are sometimes placed in a glass cage during the hearing. Such a practice has occasionally been examined in the context of the guarantee of the presumption of innocence under Article 6 § 2 of the Convention (see Auguste v. France, Meerbrey v. Germany). In recent years the Court has begun to examine the practice also from the standpoint of Article 3 of the Convention. Thus, in the case of Sarban v. Moldova the applicant was brought to court in handcuffs and held in a cage during the hearings, even though he was under guard and was wearing a surgical collar. A violation of Article 3 of the Convention was found in a case where the applicant was unjustifiably handcuffed during public hearings (see Gorodnichev v. Russia). Handcuffing of the applicant gave rise to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention also in a situation where no serious risks to security could be proved to exist (see Henaf v. France, Istratii and Others v. Moldova).

I was wondering whether the experience of a person when put in the cage is of such a degrading nature to be considered under Article 3? Continue reading

How significant is the ‘significant disadvantage” of the new admissibility criterion (Part II)?

It has been claimed[1] and it is also my understanding that human rights protect important aspects of a human life. The views on what are the important aspects may vary. The drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights put in their views; inspired by the rights in the Declaration, the European Convention was composed, and States made an agreement that those are the aspects that should be protected by legally binding human rights. And finally, the Court does its job to interpret the rights and thus we find spheres in each right that are protected by the respective right. These spheres are often determined as rights within the existing broader rights of the Convention. Does the Court think about the general importance of the spheres in human life when developing the scope of rights? To my mind, it could be at least stronger on applying the importance criterion. Let’s take a look at a recent case decided by the Court – Golemanova v. Bulgaria. Continue reading

How significant is the ‘significant disadvantage’ of the new admissibility criterion (Part I)?

In its decisions in the cases of Holub v. the Czech Republic and Bratři Zátkové, a.s. v. the Czech Republic the Court has unanimously declared the applications inadmissible. The Court used the new admissibility criterion to determine that. Continue reading

The new powers of single judge formations and committees

“The year 2010, which was the sixtieth anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, has been an important year for the European Court of Human Rights,” writes the president of the Court, Jean-Paul Costa, in the foreword to the 2010 report.[1]

Indeed, Protocol 14 entered into force in June of last year, granting long-awaited new powers to the Court’s ‘bodies’ – single judge formations and committees – to help dealing with the increasing case-load.  Continue reading

The right to choose the circumstances of becoming a parent

In the end of last year the Court delivered a judgment in the case of Ternovszky v. Hungary. In this judgment the Court created a new right – the right to choose the circumstances of becoming a parent. I will not focus on the discussion about the safety of the mother and the child that is part of the factual part of the judgment but solely on the creation of the new right.

Continue reading