One-way ticket to Sudan: standard-setting, yet disconnection between reasoning and outcome in N.A. v. Switzerland?

By Ellen Desmet, assistant professor of migration law at Ghent University

On 30 May 2017, the European Court of Human Rights decided two cases regarding the expulsion of rejected asylum seekers by Switzerland to Sudan. In A.I. v. Switzerland, the Court held unanimously that there would be a violation of Articles 2 and 3 ECHR in case of implementation of the deportation order, whereas in N.A. v. Switzerland the Court, also unanimously, did not find a conditional violation of these provisions.

The judgments (only in French) deserve a blogpost for at least two reasons. First, the Court explicitly sets out criteria in order to assess the risk of ill-treatment of political opponents when returned to Sudan. Second, the legal reasoning in N.A. v. Switzerland seems to hold potential for improvement. This post does not aim to question the outcome in N.A.: even though many aspects of A.I. and N.A. run parallel, there are important factual differences that may justify finding a violation in one case but not in the other. It does take issue with the way this outcome is arrived at in N.A. v. Switzerland. Continue reading

Victims placed at the centre in Beslan School Siege Judgment (Tagayeva and Others v. Russia)

By Jessica Gavron and Jarlath Clifford, European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC, based at Middlesex University School of Law)

Last month the European Court of Human Rights (“the Court”) found that Russia violated the right to life of 409 victims of the Beslan school siege. The judgment in Tagayeva and Others v. Russia has been described as a high watermark for the human rights protection of hostages and for confirming the responsibility of states in conducting counter-terrorism operations under the European Convention on Human Rights. Continue reading

Talpis v. Italy: Elements to Show An Article 14 Violation in Domestic Violence Cases

What are the elements necessary to support a finding of discrimination in domestic violence cases? In the recent case of Talpis v. Italy, two judges voted against an Article 14 violation. The dissenting opinions offer an opportunity to reflect on this and other broader questions that may be relevant for future cases. The questions flow from disagreement in the judgment over: whether the domestic authorities involved in the individual case were discriminatory towards the applicant as a woman and whether there were sufficient indications of failures to protect women in the Italian system.

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Trivializing anti-personnel mines and ignoring childness: Sarıhan v Turkey

In an astonishingly laconic judgment (available only in French), the Court found no violation in the case of a 12-year old who was wounded by an anti-personnel mine while herding his sheep.

Facts and Ruling

The facts in this case date back to the summer of 2003, in a Kurdish village in East Turkey, not far from the borders with Armenia and Iran. 12-year old Erkan Sarıhan was herding his sheep in a minefield, situated at 150 metres from his village. He was playing with an anti-personnel mine when it exploded, causing severe injuries to his face, hands and chest. The minefield, which belonged to an army post situated 200 metres further, was surrounded with barbed wire and warning signs. There was also a watch post manned by two soldiers, who however did not have a view of the entire terrain and as a result had not seen the child enter. The inquiry into the accident showed that through the village mayor, the inhabitants of the village had regularly been warned about the dangers of the minefield. The report concluded that the child’s parents were responsible for the accident. It also held that it was necessary, in order to prevent similar accidents, to move the watch post so that it would overview the entire terrain, and to install specific warning signs for illiterate persons.

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It is time for the European Court to step into the business and human rights debate: A comment on Özel & Others v. Turkey

By Lieselot Verdonck, doctoral researcher at the Human Rights Centre (Ghent University) and fellow of the Research Foundation – Flanders (Belgium).

Özel & Others v. Turkey neatly fits into established case law of the European Court regarding human rights violations in which companies are involved. This is precisely the reason why the judgment may disappoint business and human rights scholars. In times of vigorous and divisive debates, the Court should shed a light on, instead of ignoring, the “business aspect” of the human rights violation.

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From Therapeutic Abstention to the Right to Die? The Case of Lambert and Others v. France

This guest post was written by Konstantin Tretyakov, S.J.D. at Harvard Law School.

On June 5th, 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR) delivered its judgment in the case of Lambert and Others v. France. The case was about end-of-life decision-making on behalf of a persistently incompetent patient (Vincent Lambert, a French citizen) who was in a vegetative state and had to be artificially fed and hydrated through a gastric tube. The controversy arose with respect to the removal of that tube, which would result in the patient’s starvation, dehydration, and, ultimately, death: while some of the patients’ relatives (parents, half-brother and sister) wanted him to be kept fed and hydrated, his other relatives (wife and nephew) and caring physicians wanted the nutrition and hydration to be discontinued.

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Moving away from N v UK – Interesting tracks in a dissenting opinion (Tatar v Switzerland)

By Eva Brems

The Court’s case law on the expulsion of very ill persons to their country of origin bothers many. The standard  of ‘very exceptional circumstances’ set in N v United Kingdom (2008) is so high that no applicant to date has passed it. The only individual who has won a case of this type is the applicant in D v United Kingdom in 1997, who was in the final stages of a terminal illness and had no prospect of medical care or family support on expulsion to his home country. As was noted by a recent blogger, many people, both inside the Court and among academic commentators, are of the opinion that this standard should be adjusted.   Continue reading