Skullcap in the Courtroom: A rare case of mandatory accommodation of Islamic religious practice

In Hamidović v Bosnia and Herzegovina (5 December 2017), the Fourth Section of the Court found a violation of articles 9 and 14 ECHR on account of the punishment of a witness for wearing an Islamic skullcap in the courtroom. As almost all claims for accommodation of Islamic religious practice have failed before the Court, this is an important case. The Court reaffirms member states’ wide margin of appreciation in this field, yet this judgment makes clear that such a margin is nevertheless not unlimited. Continue reading

The European Court & Defamation of the Dead: searching for clarity

By Jonathan McCully (Media Legal Defence Initiative / Columbia Global Freedom of Expression)

On 28 November 2017, in MAC TV v. Slovakia, the European Court of Human Rights (European Court) found a violation of the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the Convention where the Broadcasting Council of Slovakia had fined a television programme for showing a lack of respect to the dignity of the President of Poland following his death in a tragic plane accident. The case is one of the few where the European Court has considered the human rights implications of controversial stories following the death of an individual. However, it leaves much to be desired in terms of clarifying the status of “defamation of the dead” laws under the Convention. Continue reading

Same Same But Different: A heterosexual couple denied registered partnership by the ECtHR

By Claire Poppelwell-Scevak, FWO Research Fellow, Human Rights Centre (Ghent University)

On 26 October 2017 the European Court of Human Rights held in Ratzenböck and Seydl v Austria that Austria’s registered partnership law, which is only open to homosexual couples, did not violate the European Convention on Human Rights by denying this registered partnership to a heterosexual couple. The judgment given by the seven member – although there was a two judge dissenting opinion – bench can be seen as a warning to future same-sex marriage proponents that their claims will not be favourably assessed. Continue reading

“Protecting the Public Purse” in cuts to Social Security: Krajnc v Slovenia

By Dr Ben Warwick (University of Birmingham)

Krajnc v Slovenia continues the ECtHR’s grappling with the interaction between Convention rights and public finance questions. Relying on Article 1, Protocol 1 the applicant successfully argued that a law change, which resulted in a halving of his disability allowance, was a breach of the Convention. The case follows many other cases in the same vein. Despite reaching this positive conclusion, in its reasoning the Court relies upon deeply problematic assumptions about the relationship between rights and fiscal policy, and fails to interrogate harmful stereotypes of disabled persons. Continue reading

‘Of course a stranger must conform’: reading the Ndidi judgment with Euripides’ Medea

By Benoit Dhondt, Belgian lawyer specialized in migration and refugee law. As a teaching assistant, he is also connected to the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University, more specifically its Human Rights and Migration Law Clinic.

Recently the ECtHR took an umpteenth swing at the question to what extent the family life and private life of a settled migrant with a criminal record is worthy of protection. At a time in which Council of Europe Member States, such as Belgium, have developed new legislation concerning the deportation of migrants allegedly posing a threat to public order, the case of Ndidi v. the United Kingdom does little to clarify the Court’s rather heterogenous case law in this matter.  I will give a brief description of the case, after which I will propose a new approach to private life and family life in deportation cases, based on a reading of Euripides’ famous play Medea, and inspired by the dissenting opinion of Judge Turković to the case. Continue reading

Tamiz v. UK: Google’s blog-publishing service is not liable for offensive comments

This guest post was written by Ingrida Milkaite (Ghent University)*

On 12 October 2017 the European Court of Human Rights (the Court, the ECtHR) decided on the liability of Google Inc. as an information society service provider for offensive comments posted below a blog post about Mr Payam Tamiz. His application filed under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR, the Convention) was declared inadmissible.

Background and facts Continue reading

Strasbourg fails to protect the rights of people living in or at risk of poverty: the disappointing Grand Chamber judgment in Garib v the Netherlands

By Valeska David and Sarah Ganty, PhD researchers at Ghent University and Université Libre de Bruxelles

On November 6th the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights issued its judgment in Garib v. the Netherlands (Application n° 43494/09). It thereby confirmed the Chamber’s finding that refusing a housing permit to a single mother living on social welfare on account of legislation imposing minimum income requirements to reside in a number of hotspot areas of Rotterdam, did not violate her freedom to choose her residence (Article 2 of Protocol 4 ECHR). While the applicant and our third party intervention invited the Grand Chamber to examine the case also under Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) read in conjunction with Article 2 of Protocol 4 ECHR, the Grand Chamber declined to do so. Five judges, rightly so, annexed three highly critical dissenting opinions. As we shall show in this post, this is a deeply disappointing judgment in terms of both reasoning and outcome.

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