Making subsidiarity work: Struggling with procedural review – A.K. v. Latvia

The applicant in AK v Latvia is unhappy with the fact that she gave birth to a daughter with Down’s syndrome. She claims that the she was denied access to important medical information in the form of an antenatal screening test owing to negligence of her gynaecologist, in violation of article 8 ECHR. Continue reading

S.A.S. v. France: Missed Opportunity to Do Full Justice to Women Wearing a Face Veil

By Saïla Ouald Chaib and Lourdes Peroni

This week, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights published its long-expected judgment in S.A.S. v. France. The case concerns a ban on the wearing of face veils in the public space. Although the outcome of such highly debated cases is always unpredictable, we hoped that the Court would take this opportunity to bring procedural and substantive justice to the women wearing a face veil in Europe.[1] Alas, the Court disappointingly decided the case by granting a wide margin of appreciation to France and by consequently not finding a violation of any of the ECHR provisions invoked, in particular freedom of religion, the right to private life and non-discrimination. At the same time, however, the judgment contains some positive aspects, namely respect for several requirements of what is known as “procedural justice” and departure from previous case law portraying Muslim women as oppressed. In this post, we share our first impressions on what we think are some positive and negative aspects of the Court’s reasoning. Continue reading

Stensholt v. Norway: Why single judge decisions undermine the Court’s legitimacy

This guest post was written by Helena De Vylder. Helena is a Ph.D. Researcher at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University. Her research concerns admissibility criteria in regional human rights systems.

Apart from the new admissibility requirement – significant disadvantage –, the 14th Protocol contains a number of procedural changes. The competences of chambers and committees have been changed and single judge-formations (assisted by a non-judicial rapporteur) were created and given the competence to take final decisions regarding the admissibility of cases where such a decision can be taken without further examination.

The yearly statistics available on the ECHR-website (Annual Report 2013) suggest that the 14th Protocol did a wonderful job, as regards the speeding up of procedures. The backlog of the ECtHR has decreased enormously in the latest years and the renewed efficiency of the Court thanks to the filtering-mechanisms has been applauded. The single judge-formations contribute massively in this regard. However, the commented case sheds light on the other side of the decisions issued by single judges. These decisions are not published, but we had the opportunity to access one of them when an applicant who had obtained an unsatisfactory decision contacted the Strasbourg Observers. Continue reading

Seminar Announcement: Normative Dimensions of Procedural Justice in Courts

On Friday 17 January 2014, the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University organizes a seminar on normative dimensions of Procedural Justice in Courts.

In the Human Rights Centre, Prof. dr. Eva Brems and her team conducted research building on the procedural justice research of Prof. dr. Tom Tyler, applying it in a normative way to fundamental rights case-law and to the process of law-making affecting fundamental rights. This expert seminar aims at bringing together academic experts in the field of Procedural Justice as well as practitioners, i.e. judges of different courts, to reflect on this normative approach and to think about how this concept of procedural justice can be translated into practice.

A detailed program of the seminar and more practical information on the registration procedure can be found here.