Gross v Switzerland: the Swiss regulation of assisted suicide infringes Article 8 ECHR

This guest post was written by Daria Sartori, Ph.D candidate in Criminal Law at Trento University (Italy). She is interested in the relationship between Criminal Law and Human Rights, and she is presently working in Italy and abroad on a research project about the Principle of Legality and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Gross v Switzerland is the first judgment in which a member State’s position on assisted suicide is held to be incompatible with Article 8 ECHR by the European Court of Human Rights.
The Court undoubtedly reached an original and interesting conclusion, albeit by a strict majority of four votes to three. However, the relevance of this judgment is more apparent than real: Gross v Switzerland opens the door to the concrete use of Article 8 ECHR in cases relating to assisted suicide, without implying the acknowledgment of a “right to die” under the European Convention.
Leaving aside any criticism of the European Court’s attitude toward this delicate (and much debated) topic, in this post I wish to highlight a relevant mistake affecting the Court’s reasoning. Continue reading

Proper judicial assessment of evictions is part of the proportionality test

This guest post was written by Wouter Vandenhole, Professor of Human Rights Law and holder of the UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights at the University of Antwerp. Further information on Prof. Vandenhole can be found here.

There is a growing interest with the human rights of older people (see e.g. Alexandra Timmer’s post here), also from the European Court of Human Rights. In the recent judgment of Bjedov v Croatia, the Court examined the eviction of an elderly lady from her flat, as the holder of a specially protected tenancy of a socially owned flat. Under domestic law, tenants could be evicted for not having lived in the flat for more than six months. In this particular case, Ms Bjedov had not lived in her flat for ten years.

Continue reading

Mainstreaming the Human Rights of Older Persons

After a long time of neglect, there is an increasing awareness and recognition of the human rights of older persons within the international human rights community. Several stakeholders have issued a call for a ‘UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons’. In a recent article in the Human Rights Law Review, entitled ‘The Human Rights of Older Persons: A Growing Challenge’, Frédéric Mégret does an excellent job assessing these developments. Mégret shows that the rights of older persons should be approached through a human rights framework and that this is an issue which human rights lawyers cannot afford to ignore any longer.

So far, the European Court of Human Rights has not exactly produced a rich case law on the human rights of older persons. Perhaps this is not surprising, given that the European Convention and its Protocols are silent on the issue of rights for the elderly (in contrast to the European Social Charter (see article 23) and the Charter on Fundamental Rights of the European Union (article 21 and 25)). However, this might be changing. There is definitely potential in the Court’s legal analysis to mainstream the rights of older persons. This blog post focuses on that potential through the lens of two cases that were handed down in July: Heinisch v. Germany and Georgel and Georgeta Stoicescu v. Romania. Continue reading