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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G.K. v. Belgium: Post-electoral Disputes of a Political Nature Once Again in the Spotlight

By Julian Clarenne (PhD researcher at the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherches en droit constitutionnel et administratif, Université Saint-Louis Bruxelles)

On 21 May 2019, the European Court of Human Rights delivered an awaited judgment in G. K. v. Belgium on the competence of elected assemblies in post-electoral disputes. It found that the Belgian State had violated Article 3 of Additional Protocol No. 1 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the right to free elections. The reason was that one of its parliamentary assemblies (the Senate) did not offer, at least in the circumstances of the case, sufficient procedural guarantees against arbitrariness in the context of reviewing the validity of the resignation of one of its members. In that judgment, the Court also ordered Belgium to pay the applicant EUR 5,000 by way of just satisfaction for compensation in respect of the non-pecuniary damage, in addition to EUR 30 000 in costs and expenses. While this judgment is in line with the Court’s previous case-law on the right to free elections, it misses the opportunity to increases the pressure on national legal systems which, like Belgium, still confer the competence of post-electoral disputes to parliamentary assemblies. It is nevertheless unsurprising that the Court preferred to just settle the dispute at stake without drawing general conclusions, as it is in the line with its inclination to “judicial minimalism”. Continue reading