Van Wesenbeeck v. Belgium: Balancing defence rights with law enforcements’ possibilities to apply observation and infiltration methods

By Sofie Depauw, PhD Researcher at Ghent University, Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy (IRCP).

With its judgment in the case of Van Wesenbeeck v. Belgium, the Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has taken a stance with regard to the scope of defence rights in case of observation and infiltration methods. More specifically, the Court judged that, despite the lack of access to the confidential case file and the applicant’s inability to examine undercover officers, the right to a fair trial had not been violated. According to the Court, the supervisory role of the Indictments Division constituted a sufficient procedural guarantee to compensate for both interferences. Whereas it remains to be seen whether this judgment will hold, as the case can still be referred to the Grand Chamber, it is however interesting to take a closer look at the Court’s considerations in this regard and the dissenting opinion relating to the right to examine witnesses. Continue reading

Systematic detention of asylum seekers at the border: on the need for an individualised necessity test

By Ruben Wissing, lawyer at UNHCR and academic assistant migration law at Ghent University

In the Thimothawes judgement of 4 April 2017, the European Court of Human Rights acquits the Belgian State of the charge of having breached the right to liberty under article 5 §1 of the ECHR by systematically detaining asylum seekers at its external border at the national airport, as long as a (prima facia) vulnerability assessment has been undertaken, the duration of the detention remains reasonable and detention conditions are adequate.  Two dissenting judges however do not consider this sufficient to ensure that the detention is not arbitrary. Continue reading

The ‘limits of human rights law’: dissenting androcentric voices in Talpis v. Italy

By Fleur van Leeuwen, LL.M. Ph.D., human rights researcher and lecturer

In March this year the European Court of Human Rights (Court) concluded that Italy had violated the human rights of Talpis, a Moldovan/Romanian woman living in Italy who had for years endured domestic abuse by the hands of her Moldovan husband. The violence had culminated in the death of her son and a life threatening chest wound to herself. The Court found that the Italian authorities had not acted with the required due diligence to protect the applicant from harm and held that Italy had violated articles 2 (the right to life), 3 (freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment) and 14 (non-discrimination). Two judges did not agree with the decision [on this case, see the blog post by Lourdes Peroni here]. Continue reading

Victims placed at the centre in Beslan School Siege Judgment (Tagayeva and Others v. Russia)

By Jessica Gavron and Jarlath Clifford, European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC, based at Middlesex University School of Law)

Last month the European Court of Human Rights (“the Court”) found that Russia violated the right to life of 409 victims of the Beslan school siege. The judgment in Tagayeva and Others v. Russia has been described as a high watermark for the human rights protection of hostages and for confirming the responsibility of states in conducting counter-terrorism operations under the European Convention on Human Rights. Continue reading

A.M.V. v. Finland: Independent Living, a Bridge Too Far for the European Court of Human Rights

By Constantin Cojocariu, human rights lawyer specialised in disability and transgender rights

The recently adopted judgment in the case A.-M.V. v. Finland on the right of an intellectually disabled man to decide where and with whom to live makes for a fascinating, although frustrating reading. This is a timely reminder of the considerable challenges remaining on the journey towards the goal of independent living, celebrated on the 5th of May across Europe. Continue reading

A.P., Garçon and Nicot v. France: the Court draws a line for trans rights

By Pieter Cannoot, PhD researcher of human rights law (Ghent University)

On 6 April 2017, the European Court of Human Rights significantly strengthened the human rights protection of trans persons, with its long-awaited judgment in the case A.P., Garçon and Nicot v. France. The Court ruled that the condition of compulsory sterilizing surgery or treatment for legal gender recognition violated Article 8 of the Convention. Nevertheless, the judgment also left some questions unanswered. Continue reading

Nagmetov v. Russia: opening up Pandora’s Box on Article 41?

By Dr. Elisabeth Lambert Abdelgawad
Assoc. Prof. Edith Cowan University (Perth, Western Australia)

The allocation of just satisfaction by the Court has become a more controversial issue, probably due to the increasing number of applications where very serious violations occurred. ‘Article 41 is probably one of the provisions which have raised the most important difficulties to judges over the years’ (E. Lambert Abdelgawad, ‘Is there a need to advance the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human rights with regard to the award of damages?’, in A. Seibert-Fohr & M. E. Villiger (eds) Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights – Effects and Implementation, Ashgate, Nomos, 2014, 116). Continue reading