Disenfranchisement of woman with a disability (yet again) reveals ECtHR’s struggle with CRPD in Caamaño Valle v. Spain

By Merel Vrancken, PhD student and assistant in constitutional law at UHasselt.

In the case of Caamaño Valle v. Spain, the ECtHR held that the disenfranchisement of a woman with a mental disability did not amount to a violation of her right to vote under art. 3 of Protocol No. 1, nor did it amount to discrimination under the Convention. In its reasoning, the Court explicitly rejected the principles laid down in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (hereinafter: CRPD). It came to the conclusion of non-violation by applying the principles it had devised some eleven years earlier, in the case of Alajos Kiss v. Hungary. Concretely, a deprivation of the right to vote on the basis of an individual’s mental capacities may only happen after an ‘individualised judicial evaluation of the person’s cognitive capacity’. While, at first glance, this may not seem like a ground-breaking judgment – it simply applies earlier devised principles and the conclusion they lead to may not seem unwarranted – the rejection it entails of the principles found in the CRPD is both remarkable and unusual. While the Court has had a somewhat conflicting relationship with disability rights for some time (see, for instance, Kargakis v. Greece + blogpost and Delecolle v. France + blogpost), it had never before explicitly rejected the CRPD and its provisions as a source of interpretation for the ECHR.

Continue reading