Pişkin v. Turkey: Observations on the failure of the Lawfulness Test and the Engel Criteria within the context of the Turkish Purge

By Hakan Kaplankaya, former Turkish diplomat, jurist, INSTITUDE member

On 15 December 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR/the Court) delivered its first judgment regarding the purge of a public employee as per the first of the notorious emergency legislative decrees adopted by the Turkish government in the aftermath of the controversial coup attempt staged on July 15, 2016. The government had blamed the Gülen Movement for orchestrating the coup attempt and enacted various emergency measures with no regard for constitutional and statutory imperatives, including the dismissal of 130 thousand public servants. However, the purge was not limited to Gülenists, but also affected other ‘disloyal’ public servants such as academicians who signed a petition asking for peace for the Kurdish problem. The dismissed officials were also subjected to other punitive measures including the cancellation of their passports, a ban on performing certain professions besides the life-long prohibition of public service, as well as other administrative practices preventing them from finding jobs in the private sector, which – all combined – could be argued to amount to a civil death.

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The right to privacy used as a modern pillory in L.B. v. Hungary

By Liesa Keunen, PhD researcher at Ghent and Antwerp University, Belgium. Liesa Keunen is working on the research project ‘Tax audits on big data: exploring the legitimacy and limits in light of the prohibition of fishing expeditions’ (Ghent & Antwerp University, FWO). She is also a member of the research group Law & Technology, the Human Rights Centre and PIXLES (Privacy, Information Exchange, Law Enforcement and Surveillance), all established at the Faculty of Law and Criminology at Ghent University. At the University of Antwerp, she is a member of DigiTax (Centre of Excellence that researches the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation for taxation).

The fourth section of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered a remarkable judgment in the case of L.B. v. Hungary (application no. 36345/16) on January 12, 2021. The publication of taxpayers’ personal data on the tax authority’s website for failing to fulfil their tax obligations constitutes no violation of the right to private life as established under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In this case, the personal data published included the applicant’s name, home address, tax identification number, and the amount of unpaid tax he owed. The ECtHR clearly prioritises the Hungarian legislature’s choice to make the identity of persons who fail to respect their tax obligations publicly available in order to improve payment discipline and protect the business interests of third parties over the data subject’s right to privacy.

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X and Y v. Romania: the ‘impossible dilemma’ reasoning applied to gender affirming surgery as a requirement for gender recognition

By Sarah Schoentjes, PhD Researcher at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University, and Dr. Pieter Cannoot, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University and Visiting Professor at the University of Antwerp

In the case of X and Y v. Romania, the ECtHR has declared one more abusive requirement for gender recognition to be a violation of article 8 of the Convention. Almost two years after X v. FYROM, in a case with a similar fact pattern, the Court finally declared that requiring trans persons to undergo gender affirming surgery before they could obtain legal gender recognition violates their human rights. Though the judgment is not without flaws – notably, the Court’s now steadfast refusal to examine gender recognition cases under art. 14, – X and Y v. Romania is a momentous development in the Court’s case law, guaranteeing trans people an extra level of much-needed protection, recognition and autonomy.

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Beg your Pardon!: Criminalisation of Poverty and the Human Right to Beg in Lăcătuş v. Switzerland

By Corina Heri, postdoctoral researcher at University of Zürich

Begging can be framed in different ways. For city tourism officials, it’s a problem of branding. For local legislatures, it’s an opportunity to show a ‘tough on crime’ stance. For the people who beg themselves, begging can mean survival. But, until recently anyway, the European Court of Human Rights had not considered begging as a human rights issue. That is, until 19 January 2021, when it recognised that there is in fact a human right to beg.

In the judgment concerned, Lăcătuş v. Switzerland (available here, in French only), the Third Section found that the city of Geneva had violated a young Roma woman’s Article 8 ECHR rights (respect for private and family life) by fining and ultimately imprisoning her for begging. This post will summarise and discuss the judgment, and look at how it fits into the grander scheme of the Court’s poverty-related jurisprudence and its views on distributional justice. It will also discuss the rights claims that the judges did and did not entertain, and will touch on the issue of the applicant’s vulnerability.

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