The Court’s first ruling on Roma’s access to safe water and sanitation in Hudorovic et al. v. Slovenia: reasons for hope and worry

This blogpost is written by Valeska David who is an Affiliated Researcher at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University and Assistant Professor of International Law at University of Navarra. She has recently published the book ‘Cultural Difference and Economic Disadvantage in Regional Human Rights Courts: An Integrated View’ (Intersentia, 2020).

On 10 March 2020, the Strasbourg Court delivered its judgment in Hudorovic et al. v. Slovenia (App. nos. 24816/14 and 25140/14). The case deals with two complaints from Roma families who have been living in informal settlements without access to water, sanitation, sewage, and electricity for decades. The Court has previously dealt with the living conditions of Roma irregular settlements (e.g. Winterstein and Yordanova) as well as with the contamination of water resources resulting in health and environmental risks (e.g. Dzemyuk and Dubetska). This is the first time, however, that it has to examine whether the right to access safe drinking water and sanitation is protected by the Convention (particularly under Article 8 ECHR). This important question is furthermore posed in relation to the social group most affected by inequality in access to water in the first European country to make water a constitutional right. The case understandably attracted third party interventions from the European Roma Rights Centre and the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University, the latter available here.

Access to clean water and sanitation might sound too basic to be an issue in today’s Europe. But the truth is that securing universal access to such essential goods continues to be a pending challenge, especially for Roma people. At a time in which the European Parliament and the Council are discussing the adoption of a so-called Drinking Water Directive,[1] the Strasbourg Court is being called to play its part. The Court can significantly contribute to develop common minimum standards to ensure that everyone, especially those historically discriminated against can effectively enjoy water rights in Europe. From this perspective, however, this post argues that the judgment in Hudorovic offers a mixed picture, one of both hope and worry. Before explaining why, I shall briefly summarise the facts of the case and the Court’s findings.   Continue reading

F.J.M. v. the United Kingdom: Judicial review of the proportionality of an eviction in private rental housing

By Juan Carlos Benito Sánchez, PhD Researcher (FRESH) at F.R.S.-FNRS and UCLouvain (Belgium)

In its decision in F.J.M. v. the United Kingdom, delivered on 29 November 2018, the European Court of Human Rights (First Section) declared inadmissible a complaint of a violation of Articles 6 and 8 of the Convention. The applicant had been evicted following a possession order made by a court, but was not allowed to raise a defence on proportionality grounds. She claimed that the possession order was disproportionate in her case and that she should have been able to require the court to make a proportionality assessment before granting possession and evicting her. This case concerns no-fault evictions in the UK, also known as “Article 21 evictions.” Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 allows landlords to evict tenants who are not at fault without the need to provide any reasons, as long as they notify the tenant in writing at least two months in advance. Continue reading

The Whereabouts Requirement: Does the ECtHR protect the right to respect for private and family life of French sport professionals?

This guest post was written by Cathérine Van de Graaf, a PhD student at Ghent University.

In a judgment on 18 January 2018, the fifth Chamber of the ECtHR found no violation of the right to private and family life in Fédération Nationale des Syndicats Sportifs (FNASS) and Others v France. The case concerned the requirement for a “target group” of sports professionals to notify their whereabouts every day of the year so unannounced anti-doping tests can take place. The Court ruled that public interest grounds justified the “particularly intrusive” interference with the applicants’ privacy.

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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.

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Roma Evictions Stopped in Strasbourg: Yordanova e.a. v. Bulgaria

This post is co-authored by Lourdes Peroni and Alexandra Timmer

The recent case of Yordanova and others v. Bulgaria concerns a pressing human rights issue: the mass eviction of Roma from their houses. The Court shows itself a strong defender of socially disadvantaged groups who risk eviction from land that they have lived on for a long time. We will highlight just a few aspects of the Court’s judgment, namely the Court’s outstanding proportionality analysis and the issue of racial tensions.

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