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.

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X and Y v North Macedonia: A missed opportunity to improve the case law on anti-Roma custodial violence

By Emma Várnagy (Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Law, Safety and Governance, The Hague University of Applied Sciences)

The case of X and Y v North Macedonia (Application no. 173/17) concerns the beating of two Roma youths by the police and the subsequent inaction concerning the investigation of their ill-treatment. In fact, it has a strikingly similar fact pattern to a number of cases throughout the last two decades, such as Assenov and Others v Bulgaria (1998); Bekos and Koutropoulos v Greece (2005); Stefanou v Greece (2010); or A.P. v Slovakia (2020). These cases all concern the apprehension of Roma minors for suspected theft and their ill-treatment in police custody. The novelty of X and Y is that it is the first time the discrimination claim was also raised under Article 1 of Protocol No. 12, thereby offering an opportunity that the Court could have taken to formulate its approach to racist violence at the hands of public authorities.

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Addressing gender discrimination at work, still an important challenge for the ECtHR in Napotnik v. Romania

Beril Önder: PhD Candidate, University of Strasbourg (Institut de Recherches Carré de Malberg) and Ghent University (Human Rights Centre)

On 20 October 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECtHR’ or the ‘Court’) delivered a judgment in the case of Napotnik v. Romania (application no. 33139/13). The case concerns the immediate termination of a female applicant’s diplomatic posting, allegedly due to her pregnancy,  to the Romanian Embassy in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

This is the first case where the Court not only examines, on the merits, a complaint regarding discrimination on the grounds of sex under Article 1 of Protocol no. 12 of the Convention, but also a complaint concerning gender discrimination in the workplace because of pregnancy. In its judgment, the Court found that the applicant’s diplomatic assignment had been terminated primarily because of her pregnancy, and that she had been treated differently on the grounds of sex. However, it concluded that this difference in treatment did not constitute a violation as the domestic authorities had provided relevant and sufficient reasons to justify the necessity of the measure.

This blogpost will first discuss the facts of the case and the Court’s judgment, and then will focus on the problematic aspects of the judgment from a gender equality perspective.

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