European Court President Spano’s Visit to Turkey and Its Repercussions

By Hakan Kaplankaya (Former Turkish diplomat, jurist, INSTITUDE member)

Robert Spano, President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), paid an official visit to Turkey upon the invitation of the Turkish Minister of Justice between 3-5 September 2020. He was accompanied by Saadet Yüksel, national Judge of Turkey and Hasan Bakırcı, Deputy Section Registrar at the Court. In respect to the events and meetings held during this visit, Spano and the Strasbourg Court have been harshly criticized for undermining its independence, neutrality and ethical rules. Thus, it would not be wrong to stress that the reputation of the young and ambitious President of the Court has been considerably damaged at an early stage of his tenure.

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Living with HIV/AIDS in Prison: Segregation and Othering Endorsed by the ECtHR in Dikaiou v Greece

By Vandita Khanna and Natasa Mavronicola

In Dikaiou and Others v Greece, the First Section of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) was called upon to determine, inter alia, whether the separate detention of six female prisoners living with HIV/AIDS amounted to ‘ghettoisation and stigmatisation’ in violation of the prohibition of discrimination (Article 14 ECHR) taken together with the right not to be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 3 ECHR). The ECtHR held that Greece had not violated Articles 3 and 14 ECHR. In this short piece, focusing on the question of segregated detention, we consider how the Court’s reasoning obscures, legitimises, and helps perpetuate the stigmatisation of prisoners living with HIV/AIDS, while failing to recognise the dignity-harm of segregated detention. We argue that the Court’s amplification of the ‘othering’ of an already vulnerable group fundamentally contradicts the core values of Article 3 and Article 14 ECHR.

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A right to regularize unlawful residence? Pormes v. Netherlands untangled

By Mark Klaassen (assistant professor of immigration law at the Europa Institute of Leiden University)

To what extent can irregular migrants rely on the protection of Article 8 ECHR to regularize their irregular residence? The European Court of Human Rights (the Court) has dealt with this issue before, in different cases with various factual backgrounds. The starting point of the Court has always been – and remains to some extent – that only in exceptional circumstances the state is under an obligation to regularize the stay of an irregular migrant. In my view – which I expressed before in ‘Between facts and norms: Testing compliance with Article 8 ECHR in immigration cases’ – the test to determine whether such obligation exists is unclear and would benefit from clear guidance from the Court.

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Event Announcement: Conference “The ECHR turns 70: Taking Stock, Thinking Forward” postponed to 24-26 November 2021

We are delighted that our call for papers has attracted a huge interest from all over the world and we would like to thank everyone who submitted an abstract.

In view of the Corona crisis, we are moving the Conference to 24-26 November 2021. This will enable our participants to meet face to face which we believe will add to the discussion and the overall enjoyment of those attending the event.

We still want to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Convention in November 2020 and are therefore organising a smaller, bespoke, event on the original date: 20 November 2020. In particular, we are delighted that the European Court of Human Rights’ President, Judge Spano, and former President of the Court, Judge Sicilianos, will be in conversation with the Ghent Human Rights Centre’s Director, Professor Eva Brems. This will be streamed online.

Further information on both this celebratory event and the conference will be published in due time on this blog. You can also visit the conference website.

 

Strasbourg Observers has got a new logo, we hope you like it!

Dear readers,

Last month, we celebrated our tenth anniversary. Now that our blog is entering its second decade, we decided that it was time to give it a brand new, more modern logo by way of a birthday present – a first step in the restyling of our website. We’re happy to be able to present the new logo to you today (see the top of the page), we hope you like it as much as we do! As with the old logo (see below), the eye in the logo symbolizes the diverse lenses through which our bloggers approach the Strasbourg case law.

With our new logo, we also plan to increase our online visibility. For this purpose, we also created a Strasbourg Observers twitter page. Please follow us if you want to stay informed on the publication of new blog posts via that medium.

Blog9

 

Announcement: Webinar “Human Rights of Migrants, COVID 19 and the ECHR” (2 June 2020)

We’re looking forward to the fourth webinar from the #HRvsCOVID series on 2 June 2020 (5 pm CET, 4 pm UK time). The webinar will address the question of the human rights of migrants in the context of COVID-19. Here is the announcement of the upcoming webinar:

 Human Rights of Migrants, COVID 19 and the ECHR 

Webinar 

2 June 2020

5 pm CET/4 pm BTS 

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Announcement: Webinar “The State’s positive obligations under IHRL during the coronavirus outbreak” (5 May)

After thought-provoking webinars on “Human Rights in the Times of Coronavirus” and “Council of Europe: The Conscience of Europe in a Time of Crisis” (recorded versions of which are available here and here), next week a third webinar in the series will address the role of positive obligations in the context of Covid-19. The webinar takes place on Tuesday 5 May at 3 pm UK time, 4 pm CET. Here is the announcement:

The State’s positive obligations under IHRL during the coronavirus outbreak

Webinar

5 May 2020

3pm (UK time) Continue reading

Announcement: Webinar “Council of Europe: The Conscience of Europe in a Time of Crisis” (21 April)

In follow-up to the succesful webinar on “Human Rights in the Times of Coronavirus” (a recorded version of which is available here), next week another webinar is taking place on the role the Council of Europe could play in the context of the Covid-19 crisis. The webinar takes place on Tuesday 21 April at 4 pm UK time, 5 pm CET. Here is the announcement:

 

Council of Europe: The Conscience of Europe in a Time of Crisis

Webinar

21 April 2020

4 pm

https://zoom.us/j/164030987 (if you wish to participate and ask questions. Come early limited to 100 participants)

https://youtu.be/LrHejIHHAfQ (if you wish to follow the livestream)

The panellists will discuss the role and potential influence of the Council of Europe on the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The panellists will discuss the expectations and reality of what can be done by a human rights institution in time of de facto emergency.

Panellists:

Chairs: Prof Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou (University of Liverpool) and Dr Stuart Wallace (University of Leeds)

Dr Veronika Bilkova (Charles University in Prague, Venice Commission)

Prof Philip Leach (University of Middlesex)

Rob Linham OBE (Deputy UK Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe)

Jörg Polakiewicz (Director of Legal Advice and Public International Law Legal Adviser of the Council of Europe)

Prof Ineta Ziemele (President of the Constitutional Court of Latvia, Former Judge of the European Court of Human Rights)

 

Update (22/04): for those who were unable to join, you can watch the recorded version of this Webinar on YouTube.

Announcement: Webinar on Human Rights in the Time of Coronavirus (7 April)

Dear readers,

This week, an interesting debate took place on our blog regarding the necessity and/or desirability of derogation under Article 15 in the context of the Covid-19 crisis. The poll we launched yesterday on this question is still quite tight, indicating that many people continue to disagree on the path to take. At Strasbourg Observers, we are therefore very happy to support continued debate on this question in the form of a webinar, which will take place next Tuesday (7 April) at 4 pm UK time, 5 pm CET. Here is the announcement:

 

Human Rights in the Time of Coronavirus: Does England’s Lockdown Violate Human Rights Law?

Webinar

7 April 2020, 4 pm (UK time)

https://zoom.us/j/335812961 Continue reading

To derogate or not to derogate? Poll on emergency Covid-19 measures

These are exceptional times. Covid-19 represents a threat to public health in Europe of an extent that is unprecedented in modern times. At the same time, the restrictions on normal life imposed by Council of Europe Member States in response to the outbreak are a test case for the ECHR regime. While the Strasbourg Court itself has temporarily suspended most of its activities, including the delivery of new judgments, the human rights pressures generated by the Covid-19 crisis continue to provide a source for vigorous debate within the ECHR community. An important question that currently divides the ECHR community  is whether or not States should make a derogation under Article 15 ECHR with a view to taking the necessary measures in response to the public health emergency. Via the poll below, we would like to enquire into the view of you, our readers, on the necessity and/or desirability of States making such a declaration. Continue reading

Reminder: Conference “The ECHR Turns 70 – Taking Stock, Thinking Forward”

In these disturbing times for all of us, we at the Ghent University’s Human Rights Centre are really looking forward to seeing all of you, the ECHR community, again once all of this is over. On 18-20 November 2020, we’re organizing a conference to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, which was opened for signature in Rome on 4 November 1950. This post serves as a reminder that the deadline for submission of abstracts is 15 April 2020. For more information on how to do so, please visit our conference website. Continue reading

Poll: Best and Worst ECtHR Judgment of 2019

Dear readers,

As the Grand Chamber made clear in the (in)famous Lautsi case, “the decision whether or not to perpetuate a tradition falls in principle within the margin of appreciation”. Exercising our discretion in this respect, we hereby decide to perpetuate our tradition of celebrating the start of the New Year with the launch of our annual poll for the best and worst ECtHR judgment of the preceding year.

Where did the Strasbourg Court in 2019 seize the opportunity to truly act as a beacon of hope to victims of human rights violations across Europe? Conversely, where did the Court fail to provide robust human rights protection? We would like to warmly encourage you, our readers, to participate in answering these questions in the 2019 edition of our vote. Continue reading

Call for papers: Conference “The ECHR Turns 70 – Taking Stock, Thinking Forward”

The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, better known as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), was opened for signature in Rome on 4 November 1950. The Convention will thus be 70 next autumn. Ghent University’s Human Rights Centre wishes to take the opportunity of this anniversary to take stock of the history of the Convention system and to think about its future during an international conference.

The conference will take place in Ghent (Belgium) on 18-20 November 2020. More information can be found in the call for papers below (or download the PDF version with clickable links from the conference website, which will be regularly updated).

During the conference, we will also be present in a Strasbourg Observers live format, allowing scholars to critically discuss single ECtHR judgments in the best Strasbourg Observers tradition. We hope to meet many of our readers and contributors there! Continue reading

Poll: Best and Worst ECtHR Judgment of 2018

Dear readers,

At the start of the New Year, we traditionally like to seize the moment and assess the past year of Strasbourg jurisprudence. For this purpose, we are hereby launching our poll for the best and worst ECtHR judgment of 2018. We would like to warmly encourage you, our readers, to participate in our annual vote.

Out of the 1,014 judgments delivered by the ECtHR in the course of 2018, our internal voting process resulted in a diverse selection of five judgments in each category. If you are, however, of the opinion that we missed out on an important case(s), you can also select other good or bad cases that we may have missed out using the “Other” option. You are welcome to share your reasons for voting via the comments section below.

The winners and losers will be announced in about a month.

To refresh your memory on the nominated judgments – or to introduce you to them – we have included brief summaries below the polls. Continue reading

Academic freedom dimension overlooked in the case of Tuskia and Others v. Georgia

By Joanne Fish (University of Glasgow)

In Tuskia and Others v. Georgia (11 October 2018) the European Court of Human Rights ruled on a case concerning a protest against university reforms by a group of academics at Tbilisi State University. The applicants are nine professors, six of which were members of the Grand Academic Council, the highest representative body of the University until the Council was abolished in June 2005. The Strasbourg court ruled that their removal by the police from the rector’s office had constituted a justified interference with their right to freedom of assembly. In doing so the Court arguably did not take into account a lot of the context of the case, causing the academic freedom dimensions of the case to be significantly downplayed to the extent that it reads akin to an ordinary workplace dispute. Continue reading

Announcement Grassrootsmobilise Conference and Public Event (Athens, 3-4 May)

On Friday 4 May 2018, the Grassrootsmobilise Programme organizes a conference “Between state and citizen: religion at the ECtHR”, preceded by a public event on Thursday 3 May on “Religion and Secularism: does the Court go too far – or not far enough?” Strasbourg Observer Prof. Dr. Eva Brems participates in the latter event.

This is the conference concept note: Continue reading

Poll: Best and Worst ECtHR Judgment of 2017

Dear readers,

We, from Strasbourg Observers, would like to wish you all the best for 2018. Following our yearly tradition, the start of the new year is a good opportunity to invite you, our readers, to retrospectively assess the ECtHR’s work of the past year. For this purpose, we are hereby launching our poll for the best and worst ECtHR judgment of 2017. Continue reading

New book: Integrated Human Rights in Practice. Rewriting Human Rights Decisions

We are glad to present you the recent volume Integrated Human Rights in Practice. Rewriting Human Rights Decisions, with Edward Elgar Publishing (Eva Brems and Ellen Desmet, eds.). The book is the result of a collaborative effort of the Human Rights Integration network with international human rights experts Martin Scheinin, Rhona Smith, Gerald L Neuman, Malcolm Langford and Magnus Killander.

This is the book’s blurb: Continue reading

Call for Papers: “Responding to Legitimacy Challenges: Opportunities and Choices for the European Court of Human Rights”

On 21 September 2018, the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University is co-organizing a Workshop “Responding to Legitimacy Challenges and Choices for the European Court of Human Rights – Researchers Meet the Court” in Strasbourg. This is the call for papers (deadline 15 February 2018): Continue reading

New Book: When Human Rights Clash at the European Court of Human Rights – Conflict or Harmony?

We are pleased to announce the recent publication of When Human Rights Clash at the European Court of Human Rights: Conflict or Harmony? by Oxford University Press (Stijn Smet and Eva Brems, eds). The volume tackles both the existence and resolution of human rights conflicts at the ECtHR. It contains contributions by Samantha Besson, Eva Brems, Leto Cariolou, Ian Leigh, Javier Martínez-Torrón, Dolores Morondo Taramundi, Russell Sandberg, Stijn Smet, Sébastien Van Drooghenbroeck, Dirk Voorhoof and Lorenzo Zucca. In the book’s first part, contributors propose a range of general approaches to human rights clashes. In its second part, they engage in concerted scholarly debate about four leading ECtHR judgments on human rights conflicts: Axel Springer AG v. Germany; Evans v. The United Kingdom; Fernández Martínez v. Spain; and Eweida v. The United Kingdom.

This is the volume’s description:

The notion of conflict rests at the heart of the judicial function. Judges are routinely asked to resolve disputes and defuse tensions. Yet, when judges are called upon to adjudicate a purported conflict between human rights, they face particular challenges and must address specific questions. Some of these concern the very existence of human rights conflicts. Can human rights really conflict with one another, in terms of mutual incompatibility? Or should human rights be interpreted in harmony with one another? Other questions concern the resolution of real conflicts. To the extent that human rights do conflict, how should these conflicts be resolved? To what extent is balancing desirable? And if it is desirable, which understanding of balancing should judges employ? This book seeks to provide both theoretical and practical answers to these questions. It debates both the existence and resolution of human rights conflicts, in the specific context of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. The contributors put forth principled and pragmatic arguments and propose theoretical as well as practical approaches, whilst firmly embedding their proposals in the case law of the European Court. Doing so, this book provides concrete ways forward in the ongoing debate on conflicts of rights at Europe’s human rights court.

Readers of the Strasbourg Observers Blog can use promotional code ALAUTHC4 to receive a 30% discount when ordering the book directly from the OUP website (only for individual (non-trade) customers; limit of ten copies; valid until 31 December 2017).

One-way ticket to Sudan: standard-setting, yet disconnection between reasoning and outcome in N.A. v. Switzerland?

By Ellen Desmet, assistant professor of migration law at Ghent University

On 30 May 2017, the European Court of Human Rights decided two cases regarding the expulsion of rejected asylum seekers by Switzerland to Sudan. In A.I. v. Switzerland, the Court held unanimously that there would be a violation of Articles 2 and 3 ECHR in case of implementation of the deportation order, whereas in N.A. v. Switzerland the Court, also unanimously, did not find a conditional violation of these provisions.

The judgments (only in French) deserve a blogpost for at least two reasons. First, the Court explicitly sets out criteria in order to assess the risk of ill-treatment of political opponents when returned to Sudan. Second, the legal reasoning in N.A. v. Switzerland seems to hold potential for improvement. This post does not aim to question the outcome in N.A.: even though many aspects of A.I. and N.A. run parallel, there are important factual differences that may justify finding a violation in one case but not in the other. It does take issue with the way this outcome is arrived at in N.A. v. Switzerland. Continue reading

The Best and Worst ECtHR judgments of 2016 are…

Dear readers,

We are happy to announce the results of our poll on the best and worst ECtHR judgment of 2016. For an overview of the shortlist of candidates, including a motivation for selecting them, see our previous blog post published on the occasion of the opening of the polls.

In light of the recent Oscars ceremony fiasco, we have made sure to double-check all votes. In the category of best judgment, the winner is… Continue reading