Conviction for performance-art protest at war memorial did not violate Article 10

By Ronan Ó Fathaigh and Dirk Voorhoof

The European Court’s Fourth Section has held, by four votes to three, that a protestor’s conviction, including a suspended three-year prison sentence, for frying eggs over the flame of a war memorial, did not violate the protestor’s freedom of expression. The judgment in Sinkova v. Ukraine prompted a notable dissent, which highlighted “inconsistency” with the Court’s prior case law, and a disregard for the principle that criminal penalties are likely to have a “chilling effect on satirical forms of expression relating to topical issues.” Continue reading

Disability and University (pragmatic) Activism: the pros and cons of Enver Şahin v Turkey

By Joseph Damamme, PhD candidate at the Centre of European Law of the Université libre de Bruxelles, member of the Equality Law Clinic & Advisor to Counsel (Constantin Cojocariu) in the case of Gherghina v Romania.

Economic and time constraints are often used as a justification for refusing or delaying necessary changes to the environment that would allow persons with disabilities to be more included in society. A balancing exercise between these constraints and the rights of these individuals was the subject of the ECtHR Chamber judgment Enver Şahin v Turkey (only available in French for now). Therein, the Court clarified somehow the content and contours of the State’s (and the University’s) responsibility, when faced with accessibility requests by their students with disabilities. The positive outcome of the Court’s ruling contrasts with some missed opportunities and unanswered questions that are addressed by Judge Lemmens in his valuable dissenting opinion. Continue reading

The right of journalistic newsgathering during demonstrations

By Dirk Voorhoof and Daniel Simons

In a case about a Ukrainian journalist being arrested during an anti-globalisation protest in Russia, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Butkevich v. Russia (13 February 2018) has clarified that the gathering of information is an essential preparatory step in journalism and an inherent, protected part of press freedom. The ECtHR found that the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the journalist had violated his right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECtHR also found violations of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty) and of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial). This blog focuses on the aspects of journalism and freedom of expression under Article 10 ECHR, and in relation to the right of peaceful demonstration under Article 11 ECHR. The judgment offers important support to journalists covering public events, demonstrations and police actions, especially after the disappointing outcome in the case of Pentikäinen v. Finland. Continue reading

JR and Others v Greece: what does the Court (not) say about the EU-Turkey Statement?

By Annick Pijnenburg, PhD researcher at Tilburg University

25 January 2018 is a date to remember for European refugee lawyers. In Luxembourg, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in Case C-473/16 that an asylum seeker may not be subjected to a psychological test in order to determine his sexual orientation. At the same time, in Strasbourg, the European Court of Human Rights issued its judgment in the case of J.R. and Others v Greece (application 22696/16), the first one in which it deals with the implementation of the so-called EU-Turkey Statement. The Court’s judgment in J.R. and Others sparked the concern of NGOs, who argue that it ‘gives legitimacy to conditions in hotspot and detention’ under the EU-Turkey Statement. This blog post examines whether J.R. and Others indeed legitimises it and, more generally, what (if any) the implications are for the EU-Turkey Statement. Continue reading

A Child-Centred Court of Human Rights? Strand Lobben v. Norway (30. Nov. 2017)

By Amy McEwan-Strand and Prof. Marit Skivenes, Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism (University of Bergen)

In a case of adoption without parental consent – Strand and Lobben v. Norway – the Fifth Section of the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) did not find a violation of Article 8 of either the mother or the child. The outcome of this case may well be surprising to many, since the last few years have seen a massive uproar and negative media attention on child protection interventions internationally, with Norway having a prominent place in this spotlight. In 2015, the Norwegian child protection system received harsh criticism from the Czech president, and the Norwegian embassy in Lithuania even felt it necessary to engage public relation consultants to handle the pressure. The Norwegian word for child protection, “barnevern” is now a term associated with draconian interventions into the family sphere in certain European circuits. Continue reading

The Committee of Ministers goes nuclear: infringement proceedings against Azerbaijan in the case of Ilgar Mammadov

By Lize R. Glas, assistant professor of European law, Radboud University

For over seven years, the Committee of Ministers (Committee) has had at its disposal the ‘nuclear option’ of launching infringement proceedings against a state that refuses to execute a Strasbourg judgment. On 5 December 2017, it decided to go nuclear for the first time, in the case of Mammadov v. Azerbaijan. Continue reading

Merabishvili, Mammadov and Targeted Criminal Proceedings: Recent Developments under Article 18 ECHR

By Corina Heri, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam

On 28 November, the Grand Chamber issued a judgment in Merabishvili v. Georgia. Twelve days earlier, the Fifth Section issued its judgment in Ilgar Mammadov (No. 2) v. Azerbaijan. Both judgments concern, among other provisions of the ECHR, its often-overlooked Article 18, which prohibits States from restricting Convention rights for illegitimate purposes. The Court has increasingly displayed an awareness of the need to clarify and amend its Article 18 case-law, as shown by the wealth of separate opinions written on the matter,[1] and it took Merabishvili as an opportunity to do so. This post looks at the Article 18 issues raised in the two judgments, and fits these into the steady and necessary, although incomplete, evolution of the Article 18 case-law. Continue reading